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Exclusive: ValueFirst Acquires Way2SMS & 160by2

Mobile messaging company ValueFirst has acquired Way2SMS, a person to person (p2p) online messaging portal, ValueFirst CEO Apurva Kumar has confirmed to MediaNama. This acquisition – an all cash deal – marks a consolidation of sorts in the push SMS business, which currently faces the threat of a declining market given regulatory challenges, and a probable switch to instant messaging with data as a bearer, with instant messaging apps like Whatsapp and Nimbuzz gaining in popularity; still the deal is surprising given that Way2SMS, which was profitable, had itself acquired 160by2 (read why), a p2p messaging portal owned by SMS Country just around four months ago.

Kumar declined to comment on the valuation, but sources told MediaNama the combined entity (Way2SMS and 160by2) was believed to be valued at around Rs 150-160 crore. Kumar said that the acquisition means that ValueFirst will now have over 50 million opt-in subscribers. He expects the company to cross Rs 250 crore of business this year.

As of January 2012, Way2SMS and 160by2 were together adding a combined 25000 registrations a day, and claimed 95% marketshare of the P2P online SMS business, with around 33 million registered users.

ValueFirst’s Acquisitions

ValueFirst had raised $15M From Headland Asia Ventures, NEA in February last year, and prior to that, $6 million from NEA in 2008. The company has done the following deals in the past:

May 2010: Invested in online social network IndyaRocks
Apr 2010:
 Acquired SMS Social Network Tagg.in for an undisclosed amount.
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
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.

ValueFirst primarily focuses on the enterprise market, but also has an SMS advertising network SpotOn Media, SMS content publishing venture SmsMeOn, and content alerts Alertrix. The Way2SMS buy is likely to be seen as a media acquisition, and will form a key part of ValueFirst’s consumer play. On the enterprise site, ValueFirst was also looking to acquire email products.

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