Bubble Motion receives $5M in funding from Japanese VC

Service lets users share voice messages on social service

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 23, 2012
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It’s probably happened to all of us at some point. You text somebody, write them on Facebook or on Twitter, trying to make a joke. But it just doesn’t come across and it leads to hurt feelings. Whoops! Seems sarcasm doesn't really translate that easily over the Web. One company, though, has figured out the solution to that problem.

Voice blogging service Bubble Motion has received $5 million from Japanese venture capital firm JAFCO Asia, the company announced on Thursday.

The company will use the money to “release significant feature updates to its current smartphone service in the next month,” and to “more aggressively grow our Bubbly app user base on iOS and Android in the US towards the end of the year,” Tom Clayton, CEO of Bubble Motion, told VatorNews.

Bubble Motion had previously closed two rounds of funding, a $6 million fund in 2009 and a $10 million fund in 2011 from investors Sequoia Capital, Singtel Innov8, Comcast, NGC and Infocomm Investments.

“This is effectively an addition to Bubble Motion's 2nd round of financing,” Clayton said, though it was not actively raising money at this time. JAFCO was one of a few investors that became interested in the company.

“We know they can add tremendous value to our business across Asia, especially in Japan, so it was a no brainer to accept this investment.”

JAFCO has ¥530 billion in capital, and 3,700 portfolio companies, of which more than 900 have gone public.

Singapore-based Bubble Motion was founded in 2005. Until 2010 it was centered around a VoiceSMS service called BubbleTalk, until the company re-invented itself as a social messaging service by launching its Bubbly voice service.

The company’s revenue comes from three different sources: share agreements with all of the major mobile operator partners in Asia; consumers who pay a monthly subscription fee, which allows them to follow celebrities, and to access exclusive, premium content; and a share of the charges that the operators collected when their users make calls with the service.

In addition to the funding news, Bubble Motion also announced that it is hiring Justin Mann, former senior engineering manager at Microsoft in China, as its new Chief Architect.

How does Bubbly work?

Bubbly works by having people record their message on their phone. They then post the message to their account to share with friends and followers.

Bubble Motion's service is available globally, but is most popular in Indonesia, Philippines, India, and Japan. Bubbly has doubled its user base in the past year, and now has 19 million users. It is available on iPhone and Android phones.

According to Clayton, there simply is no one else doing what Bubble Motion does.

"We do not have any direct competitors, because there is simply no one in the market that does real-time voice blogging like us. Bubbly offers a unique and personal way for users to interact with their social networks, while not limiting them based on their lack of smartphone or data connection," he said.

The philosophy behind Bubble Motion

What Bubble Motion seeks to do is bring people together by allowing people to use their actual voice to communicate.

“Bubbly lets users post updates using their voice -- allowing for real feeling and emotion to come through when listening to what others have to say.”

This creates a more personal experience, he said, but it also “provides a more authentic connection that is lacking in other social media outlets.”

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