Update: Responding to our query, Anuj Kumar, ED (South Asia) at Affle, informs us that all investors, including the Times of India group, continue to stay invested in the company. “This investment from Itochu is for buying new shares, and the investment would be utilized to fund our growth plans in India and beyond.”
Earlier today: Japan’s Itochu Corporation has picked up an undisclosed minority stake in Affle Holdings, a Singapore based holding company for mobile marketing company Affle. Affle claims that this strategic investment from Itochu is at a significant premium to its last round a year ago, when Microsoft had picked up almost 20% stake in Affle. Lets just hope there aren’t areas of conflict between the strategic objectives of Itochu and Microsoft. In all, Affle’s capital stands at $19.18 million. The one piece of the puzzle still missing, is a strategic partnership with a handset manufacturer, which allows Affle to be pre-embedded as the host SMS application.
Affle is best known for its SMS 2.0 product, which replaces the core SMS functionality of a mobile handset, replacing it with a jazzier SMS service, which serves advertisements (using GPRS) after a message has been sent. Affle also has a couponing product called Coufon. At the time of the Microsoft acquisition, Affle had told us that the company was eying acquisitions in mobile Value Added Services in India. Nothing so far, by the looks of it.
Affle was first deployed in India with Bharti Airtel, and grew in popularity primarily on the promotion support that Airtel initially provided it with. I don’t think any Indian operator has given this level of support to any other application deployment. Affle’s expansion over the recent year appears to have largely been international – it has operations in five Asian countries including Singapore, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The company claims that 10 mobile operator deployments: including Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Mobile and Tata Docomo in India, AIS (Thailand), Maxis (Malaysia), M1 and Starhub (Singapore) and Telkomsel (Indonesia)
Anuj Kumar, ED (South Asia) for Affle claims that their existing markets have already started turning cash flow positive, and so much of the investment from Itochu will be used for new product development and growing key markets. Frankly, we’re not sure if a 200% growth over the last four quarters augurs well for the company: usually, the higher the percentile growth, the lower the base used for calculation. Still, growth is growth.
— Affle Sells Close To 20% To Microsoft; Valuation Delay; Acquisition Plans
— NDTV Convergence Outsources Mobile Ad Sales To Affle For A Minimum Guarantee For 2 Years
-– SMS 2.0 Integrates Search From Google, MSN, AskLaila And Others; The Opportunity For Affle
— Affle Integrates Bookmarking, Calendar Options On SMS2.0