Mobile Media company Affle, whose SMS replacement product SMS 2.0 has been deployed with Airtel and Idea Cellular, has raised a strategic investment from Microsoft. While the amount of investment has not been disclosed, Anuj Kumar, Executive Director (South Asia) for Affle told MediaNama that they’ve sold close to (and less than) 20% stake to Microsoft.

Eye on Acquisitions

It’s a cash deal, and Affle is eying VAS acquisitions in India. Kumar told us that the company is in explorative discussions on the mobile content side, but they’re not close to finalizing a deal yet. Wouldn’t the content space result in a conflict of interest with other content providers that Affle deals with? Kumar says that a content play will complement Affle’s business. They’re looking to get into allied businesses, aside of the mobile advertising business where they claim domain expertise.

Why Microsoft?

Affle has primarily been operating in India and South Asia – their services are live in India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, with 3-4 other pilots running. For Affle, India is the largest market at this stage and Affle intends to leverage this deal for an expansion into markets like the US and UK, where Microsoft has telecom operator relationships. Affle wants to go beyond Asia. Affle has worked with Microsoft before – they’ve integrated content from MSN Live and Windows Live Search, with MSN getting 30 million impressions in India from them. 

On High Valuation Expectations

Venture Capitalists had told us some 6-8 months ago that Affle’s expectations of valuation were out of sync with the market – and this was before the downturn in the market became evident. Affle’s been looking to raise funds for quite a while. Responding to our question about valuations, Kumar said that they’ve got what they were looking for; they’ve also heard those statements from VCs, which is why it took longer to raise capital.

Previous Investors

Affle has previously raised $10 million in all. Apart from BCCL, which invested money (not a Private Treaties investment), Affle had also rasied a Series A round from undisclosed PE companies based in the Asia-Pacific region.