Telecom Reliance Jio Backs Indian Virtual Assistant Startup

Telecom firm Reliance Jio announced that it has acquired a majority stake in startup Haptik, which develops “conversational” platforms and virtual assistants for corporations. The transaction, worth $100 million, gives Jio an 87 percent stake in the company, with the remaining shares going to Haptik’s founding team and staff. The deal includes ₹230 ($33 million USD) to buy out existing backers, and an investment of ₹470.

In addition to offering its own services to corporations, Haptik will help Jio reach more consumers in India, Haptik Co-founder Aakrit Vaish told reports.

“As we go beyond [the current] 300 million internet users in India, people may not necessarily use apps or devices the same way they do now, particularly because of the language barrier,” he said. “Voice will be a cornerstone of how vernacular India will engage with many things, be it apps, websites, phones and other devices.”

Vaish added that Haptik didn’t need to sell, but decided to move forward on a deal with Jio, which is an “ideal match in terms of philosophy.” In fact, Jio is interested in finding different ways consumers can interact with its devices and services. Vaish described the deal with Jio as more of a strategic partnership than an acquisition — one that provides Haptik with the resources to help it grow, while giving some autonomy within Reliance Jio.

That statement is in line with what Director Akash Ambani of Reliance Jio said, explaining that the deal will “boost” Jio’s ecosystem and multi-lingual services.

“We believe voice interactivity will be the primary mode of interaction for digital India,” he said. “We are delighted to announce this partnership, and look forward to working with the experienced team of Haptik in realizing this vision for offering greater connectivity and rich communication experiences to the billion-plus Indian consumers.”