Technology giant Google and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi are eying an investment in an app called ‘Where Is My Train’ that provides live updates on trains without the use of internet and GPS.
Google is in talks to acquire the two-year-old startup, whereas Xiaomi has held discussions for an investment. It is expected that Google will acquire the company for $30-40 million in the near future. However, the transaction has not yet been finalized.
“The talks with Google are more advanced and they are likely to buy the company as a part of their Next Billion Users initiative,” a person familiar to the matter stated.
Where Is My Train is owned and operated by Sigmoid Labs, and is one of the most downloaded train-based apps in the country. It was was founded by five former executives of TiVo Corporation which is a technology entertainment company in the US.
The company claims to have crossed over 10 million downloads. The app is available in seven regional languages along with English.
The app competes with players such as Nandan Nilekani-backed RailYatri and iXigo that has been backed by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and SAIF Partners.
If the deal goes is implemented, it will be the first product acquisition in India by such a large international internet company. Prior to this, it was last year that Google acqui-hired Bengaluru-based Halli Labs. Twitter and Facebook, too, have struck small acquisition deals in India.
However, Sigmoid Labs co-founder Ahmed Nizam Mohaideen denied that Where Is My Train is being acquired. “We are in full ownership of the company. We are focused on creating value for Indian train travellers,” he stated.
“Google needs to have multiple use cases in terms of services for better utilisation and expansion of its high-engaging platforms like Search and Maps. An acquisition of Where is my Train makes a good fit for tapping into tier 2, 3 and 4 markets at scale,” said the founder of a consumer internet firm that works with Google in India.
A number of people in India browse regarding the train inquiry, and therefore, it has the second-highest number of active internet users, at about 390 million. The country’s internet user growth has been the highest at over 40 million new users per year on average since 2013.