Former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin has acquired a minority stake in music streaming service Saavn and will take on an advisory role at the India-based company.
Tapping a veteran of the telecommunications industry makes sense for Saavn, whose rapid success has been fueled by the popularity of Android smartphones across India. The company says it has 18 million monthly active users — up from 14 million as recently as July — with a goal to hit 20 by the end of the year. The milestone would put Saavn ahead of Deezer (16 million) as the second-largest digital streaming service.
Like industry leader Spotify, Saavn has both freemium and paid subscription tiers.
In announcing the news, CEO and co-founder Rishi Malhorta noted that 90 percent of Saavn’s usage comes from mobile.
“Saavn users are moving data plan transactions and driving data engagement at an incredible pace,” he said. “In the coming months, you’ll see us work more deeply with carriers in India and additional territories.”
Saavn also said it has seen a 10x increase in daily active users in India since 2014 and that users are listening to over 250 million streams per month.
In July Saavn announced it had raised $100 million in Series C funding from Tiger Global Management, Bertelsmann India Investments, Steadview Capital, Liberty Media, Mousse Partners and Quilvest. The company said it would use the capital for product development, customer acquisition, development of its proprietary advertising technology, additions to its sales force, and new content deals. “It’s an exciting time for music right now,” Malhotra told Billboard at the time.
The company, which was founded in 2007, did not disclose the size of Sarin’s investment. In a statement, Sarin said Saavn is “superbly positioned to grow rapidly in the fast expanding smartphone market in India. As an innovative and nimble music streaming company, at the heart of one of the world’s most valuable markets, Saavn hits all the right notes.”