Tech giant Google and smartphone maker Xiaomi are among investors lining up for two-year-old startup Where Is My Train, an app that provides live updates on trains without the use of internet and GPS, according to two people familiar with the development.
Google is in talks to acquire the company for $30-40 million, while Xiaomi has held discussions for an investment, they said.
“The talks with Google are more advanced and they are likely to buy the company as a part of their Next Billion Users initiative,” one of them said, adding that a transaction is not yet finalised.
Where Is My Train, which is owned and run by Sigmoid Labs, is one of the most downloaded train-based apps in the country with over 10 million downloads. It competes with Nandan Nilekani-backed RailYatri and iXigo, backed by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and SAIF Partners.
A Google spokesperson said the company does “not comment on rumours and speculation”. Xiaomi did not reply to emailed queries. Sigmoid Labs cofounder Ahmed Nizam Mohaideen denied that Where Is My Train is being acquired. “We are in full ownership of company. We are focused on creating value for Indian train travellers,” he said in an email response.
If the deal goes through, it will be the first product acquisition in India by a large global internet company. Last year, Google acqui-hired Bengaluru-based Halli Labs. Twitter and Facebook, too, have struck small acquisition deals in India for talent. Where Is My Train was founded by five former executives of TiVo Corporation, a technology entertainment company in the US. The startup has a team of fewer than 10 people and is based out of Bengaluru.
Where Is My Train offers seamless offline integration of Indian Railways and IRCTC timetables, using cell-tower information to locate trains. The app also helps customers zero in on trains with just the source and destination or even partial train names.
This negates the need for detailed information such as PNR or train numbers for tracking, making the app easy to use for people in small towns and cities—a market at the core of Google’s strategy to onboard its next billion users.
The startup is available in seven regional languages and English.