$8-million deal; Paytm acquires consumer behavior prediction platform Shifu

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Digital payments and commerce firm Paytm has acquired Delhi-based consumer behaviour prediction platform Shifu in an $8-million (Rs 53-crore) deal. Shifu is expected to enhance consumer experiences on the Paytm platform.

“Shifu’s data and tools to predict consumer preferences and behaviour are very useful for a company like ours. We can serve a consumer in a more personalized and intimate way,” Kiran Vasi Reddy, senior vice-president (business) at Paytm, told TOI.

Shifu was founded by three young technology professionals – Prashant Singh, Deepansh Jain and Michael Massey – about three years ago. Shifu’s 20-member team, including the three founders, will join Paytm.

Before starting Shifu, Singh headed product and partnership at an app publishing firm in India. He was also co-founder of the Delhi chapter of Mobile Monday, which brought together mobile enthusiasts, developers, technologists, VCs and others. Massey, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate, and Jain, a computer engineering graduate from Delhi University, had previously (between 2010 and 2012) run an app development firm called Juvenis Technologies.

Shifu had raised seed funding from a clutch of angel investors, including a top tech entrepreneur in Delhi.

Shifu mines a person’s smartphone usage data, location, time and other elements to come up with personalized predictions and relevant suggestions. “Consumers are happy when they get customized service. It will also help Paytm to strategize better,” Reddy said.

For Paytm, the acquisition is in line with its plan to invest about $150 million in emerging companies to build a complete digital ecosystem. The Alibaba-backed company plans to back or acquire at least a dozen companies with this fund. Last month, it acquired online local services marketplace Near.in for close to $2 million. Prior to that, it invested in Jugnoo, a hyper-local transportation app, in Little, a discovery platform for lifestyle consumers and a significant sales channel for merchants, and in LogiNext, a logistics startup.

“Ventures in O2O (offline-to-online) and last-mile delivery, and platforms that can solve consumer problems are on our radar,” Reddy said. Started as an online wallet payment company, Paytm has been diversifying the whole of last year to emerge as a complete mobile-commerce player to compete with companies such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.

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