One97 Communications has acquired Bangalore based messaging app Plustxt in equity for around $2 million, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & Managing Director, One97 Communications has informed Medianama. The acquisition was first reported by NextBigWhat.
Sharma said that instant messengers is the place where most amount of time is being spent currently and most amount of digital goods are being purchased. One97 plans to monetize the app by providing digital goods on the app. Note that currently Plustxt does not monetize through its app, however, Pratyush Prasanna, founder at Plustxt, had informed Medianama in April 2013 that it plans to monetize by licensing Plustxt APIs to others and providing value added services (VAS) in Indian languages. Plustxt competitor LINE had informed that digital goods (stickers) accounted for 30% of the company’s $58 million global revenue in Q1 2013, indicating that the company had generated around $17.4 million revenue from stickers.
Updated: Prasanna has informed Medianama that Plustxt has only about 2.5 lakh registered users worldwide out of which 1 lakh users are from India. How is One97 going to monetize such a low user base? It will have to build its user base in the country. Comparatively, Plustxt competitor Hike had crossed 5 million users in since its global launch in December 2012 and WhatsApp recently claimed that it has 20 million monthly active users in India.
When asked about how One97 plans to compete against popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Hike, among others, Sharma believes that mass market products need local product requirements and local language support remains a big play.
Plustxt is a messaging app that offers support for seven Indian languages besides English. These include Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Malayalam. However, instead of offering an in-app indic keyboard, the app offers indic word predictions based on the letter the user types, in a horizontally scrolling bar. Plustxt’s local language messaging is powered by Reverie language Technologies. It also offers SMS integration, allowing users to send and receive text messages at regular costs, thereby offering an option to users to replace their default SMS app with Plustxt. The app is available as a free download on Google Play Store. It also offered an iOS app, however, it appears that Plustxt has pulled out the app from iTunes Store.
In April 2013, Plustxt had raised an undisclosed sum of funding from Mumbai Angels, InMobi co-founder Amit Gupta. At that time, Plustxt founder Pratyush Prasanna said that the funding raised will be used to expand to other platforms like Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows, advertising and marketing and for hiring.
Plustxt faces stiff competition from existing messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Bharti Softbank’s Hike which raised $7 million earlier in the day, Tencent’s WeChat, Imsy, GupShup Messenger and Sabeer Bhatia’s JaxtrSMS among others.