Well, this is timely. Just around the time that the Indian telecom regulators restrictions on Bulk SMS services are expected to come into play, ValueFirst Messaging, one of the largest messaging companies in India, has raised a fresh round of funding – around Rs. 70 crore (approximately $15 million) – from investors including a wholly owned subsidiary of The Headland Asian Ventures Fund 3 Limited (HAV3), and existing investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

ValueFirst is also an investor in Indian social network Indyarocks, has a consumer focused community messaging service Tagg.in and an SMS advertising network SpotOn Media, SMS content publishing venture SmsMeOn, and content alerts Alertrix. The company had previously raised $6 million from NEA in 2008.

ValueFirst intends to use the funding amount, and then some more, for acquisitions: it has allocated around Rs. 100 crore (almost $22 million) towards acquisitions in India and overseas, in the messaging and media space. In the last year and a half, ValueFirst has made the following acquisitions and investments:

Oct 2009: Acquired Escorts Group’s VAS Firm CellNext for an undisclosed sum. CellNext operations have been integrated with Valuefirst, and it brought in M-Commerce and Voice application capability.
Mar 2010: Acquired majority stake in PacketShaper, a telecom products company, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition brought in capability to do mobile applications, as well as products for Switching, Dialers, IVR, Calling Cards and IP-PBX etc
Apr 2010: Acquired SMS Social Network Tagg.in, again for an undisclosed amount.
May 2010: Invested in online social network IndyaRocks

The inorganic plan for growth appears to be integral to ValueFirst’s growth, even through it’s a little difficult to establish a pattern in the acquisitions, and the company, at times, appears to be bottom-fishing. ValueFirst plans for an IPO in the next 18-24 months; previously it had targeted 2012 for an IPO.

Just a thought: why doesn’t ValueFirst build SMS independent push messaging products, like Rediff has done with Rediffmail NG, and provide a handset agnostic alternative (perhaps an enterprise alternative) to Blackberry messaging?

Note: we’ll have more on their acquisition plans shortly.

Social Network IndyaRocks Raises Strategic Investment From ValueFirst
Why ValueFirst Acquired SMS Social Network Tagg.in
ValueFirst Acquires Noida Based PacketShaper; Product Plans
What ValueFirst Plans To Do, To Be IPO Ready In 2012