Looking to reinvent itself as a mobile Internet and commerce company from a mobile Value Added Services company, One97 Communications* has raised $10 million from SAP Ventures. The company also plans to expand its operations into new geographies, especially South Asia and Africa. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, MD, One97 Communications told MediaNama that their business is being “driven more and more by mobile Internet, and there is a large amount of revenue that you can make via mobile marketing and mobile commerce. Most of the investment will go into this.”
The company claims that over 450 million mobile users used its mobile marketing and commerce platform for conducting transactions in the month of August 2011. The company has a mobile commerce business called PayTM, and is planning to enter the mobile games business as well.
The funding for One97 comes at an interesting juncture:
– Regulatory: Regulation from the Indian telecom regulator specifically targets subscriptions through its mobile marketing related Outbound Dialers. Sharma told MediaNama that – contrary to popular belief – OBD contributes much less than 10-15%. The company also runs mobile marketing voice channels for telecom operators.
– Fund Raising: Volatile Indian markets led to the company shelving its IPO plans, wherein it planned to raise Rs 120 crore via a listing on Indian bourses. One97 MD Vijay Shekhar Sharma told MediaNama that following this round of funding, the company has Rs 100 crore cash (close to $20 million) available for spending, and this round of fund raising from SAP is at a premium to previous rounds.
– Consumer Shift: VAS revenues are under threat from not just the regulatory changes, but also from a shift in consumer profile to the mobile Internet. Sharma told MediaNama that the company is also looking to expand from a telecom network based business to a device based business. Recently, mobile ad network Inmobi raised $200 million in funding.
– Competition: One of its key competitors, Spice Digital, is also reinventing itself as a Mobile Internet business. OnMobile Global, the largest mobile VAS company in India, appears to be sticking to its guns as a network based business.
Disclosure: One97 Communications & Spice Digital are advertisers with MediaNama