The marriage between the Mobile and the Internet is becoming something of a theme in India: Mobile messaging and services company ValueFirst has made a strategic investment in Hyderabad, India based online social network Indyarocks. Recently, Netcore, which owns the mobile content business MyToday, had acquired Greynium Technologies, which owns the portal OneIndia.in, and classifieds business Click.in.
This is the first such investment that ValueFirst has made, after three acquisitions in the recent past: they acquired CellNext Solutions, a mobile value added services company in October last year, and followed it up with acquisitions of two little known companies – enterprise products company Packetshaper and mobile group messaging service Tagg.in.
The amount of investment in IndyaRocks has not been disclosed, though according to ValueFirst COO Kumar Apoorv, IndyaRocks is “revenue positive”. Vishwadeep Bajaj, CEO of ValueFirst says that the company is eying the digital advertising space in India. ValueFirst already does provide Bulk SMS services to IndyaRocks, and this appears to be another move to add messaging inventory (or user base) to its SMS advertising business, run via its subsidiary SpotOn Media; they’d acquired Tagg.in for its inventory as well. Hyderabad based IndyaRocks, founded by Kalyan Manyam, had previously raised money from undisclosed Angel investors.
On the mobile, IndyaRocks provides SMS services (including Group SMS) to its users, and also runs a Bulk SMS business. Online, it has Photos, Videos (with 16 premium content channels), Blogs, Classifieds, games, an entire Cricket section. It’s playing the platform role, and monetization is via Movie Ticketing (powered by BookMyShow), Photo printing and Merchandising. In February this year, IndyaRocks integrated Google Adsense, allowing its members to keep 100% advertising revenue generated from their content, whether User profiles, Photos, Videos, Blogs or Classifieds. Their Instant messenger (powered by Geodesic) allows chat with external clients such as Gtalk, Yahoo, MSN and AIM.
Indyarocks intends to launch initiatives in the mobile area, which ValueFirst will help execute, though we expect it to be a tough fight, since incumbent social networks like Facebook and Orkut dominate mobile web usage in India. At the same time, there’s a large mobile user base in India not quite familiar with the concept of social networking, that is fair game.ValueFirst, once known primarily as a bulk SMS company, now also has platforms Voice, USSD, email, Mobile Internet and VoIP, with mobile payment capabilities, and an Telco-VAS business, via CellNext.