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Altruist buys social messaging service Bubbly

Bubbly had recently been rumored to be closing down after failing to attract bidders

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 22, 2014 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/38c3

(Updated with confirmation and comment from Bubbly)

The mobile messaging space continues to be a hot one this year, but it looked for a while like one company, Bubbly, the social messaging service where people share text and voice updates formerly known as Bubble Motion, might have to pack it in after unsuccessfully trying to sell itself.

Well, now the company has been saved. Or more accurately, it has been acquired by Indian social networking company Altruist, it has been confirmed to VatorNews. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The report seems to indicate that Bubbly will remain in operation, adding its 180 million users, 40 million of which are located in Asia and the Middle East, to Altruist's portfolio. The other 140 million are users of its SMS BubbleTalk service in India and Asia.

Bubbly will not be shut down… Altruist plans to grow it even more aggressively now," Thomas Clayton, CEO of Bubbly, told me. "Altruist has a big mobile voice-based social network across Africa and Europe; where as Bubbly is big across Asia and the Middle East; thus, its a perfect complement. "

Ultimately, having the backing of Altruist will help Bubbly scale faster.

"It massively increases the reach of Bubbly.  This was a very good deal for Bubbly users and ultimately will be for the investors, as there is pretty good upside built into the ongoing stock component of the deal," said Clayton.

Altruist, meanwhile, says it has 80 million active voice messaging users across Africa and Europe, which the company says will be a complement to Bubbly’s services.

“We are very excited about the addition of Bubbly. With more than 1,000 superstar celebrities active on its platform across Asia, India and the Gulf, Bubbly has the right ingredients to fuel exponential growth,” Dheeraj Aggarwal, co-founder of Altruist, said in a statement.

“It's a perfect complement to our European and African voice platform business which caters to 
more than 80 million active voice messaging users, which would immediately benefit from 
the addition of a proven, yet futuristic service.”

As per the deal, employees of the two companies will be coming together, with the workers of the Singapore-based Bubbly moving to either India or Indonesia, which is where the majority of the two companies combined users are.

First launched in 2010 as a voice messaging service called Bubble Motion, the company rebranded itself as Bubbly last year, transitioning away from the old model toward a more social service. Users are able to record voice clips, then share them with their network. It also allows them to follow others, causing it to be dubbed by some as the "Twitter for voice."

In all, Bubbly raised $39 million in funding, most recently getting $5 million from from Japanese venture capital firm JAFCO Asia in August 2012. Other investors in the company included Palomar Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Comcast Interactive Capital, SingTel Innov8 and Infocomm Investments.

Bubbly’s existing investors are expected to continue as minority shareholders in the combined company.

Altruist has been around since 2005. The company's flagship product is a voice based mobile social network that "manages end to end the mobile/digital strategy for multiple media clients and brands, hosts and manages voice infrastructure for leading content owners and distributors."

The mobile messaging space

As I said earlier, Mobile messaging has been a very hot space this year, with the Facebook deal to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion of course being the biggest one.

In addition there was also Alibaba's $215 million investment in Tango, a company that recently boosted its valuation to $1.5 billion through a secondary financing, and there was also Rakuten's $900 million purchase of Viber.

Line announced in June that it was going public, first in Tokyo then in the United States, this year. The company is reportedly looking to raise $10 billion in its IPO.

VatorNews has reached out to both Bubbly and Altruist for confirmation. We will update if we learn more. 

(Image source: bubbly.net)


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