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OnMobile’s Big RBT Bet: Acquires LiveWire For $17.8 Million Plus Liabilities

OnMobile Livewire

OnMobile Global is putting most- of not all – its eggs in the caller ringback tone basket (CRBT): it has signed an agreement to acquire LiveWire Mobile, a Boston headquartered provider of caller ringback tone services, as well as stock of Fonestarz Media Ltd, a UK based managed services of LiveWire, for a total consideration of $17.8 million, alongwith certain liabilities that the company has.

The US based entity will be called OnMobile Live Inc, a 100% owned subsidiary of OnMobile LLC, US. Livewire counts, among its customers. We’d heard murmurs of this deal after OnMobile’s conference call for the last quarter, in which the company had said that it could use the money it has for inorganic growth, but the sense that we were got then was that the deal might not go through. Now, it has.

This acquisition effectively defines the direction that OnMobile is taking as a company – it is clearly going to be a managed services play instead of a direct to consumer play, as CEO Mouli Raman had clarified to MediaNama, but more than that, it appears that the idea is to focus primarily on Caller Ringback Tones and dominate that business globally; the diversification that OnMobile will probably look for is in terms of markets and clients, perhaps at the cost of derisking via expanding its product portfolio. CRBT accounted for 58% of OnMobile’s revenues in FY13, as opposed to 49% the year before, and increased 38% year on year, even though India RBT revenues declined. Expect this percentage contribution to increase, especially with the growth in international business.

The acquisition gives OnMobile access to LiveWire’s clients – Sprint, MetroPCS and Public Mobile, and allows OnMobile to provide CRBT services to telecom operators in the US. OnMobile has been investing in data products, so this access to operators in the US also gives it an opportunity to pitch other products.

Not Taking Heed of Investor Warnings

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During Onmobile’s recent conference call, an investor had warned the company against any big investments, saying “If at all any inorganic deal is done, the quantum of the inorganic deal should be laid out to the investors. We would be averse to any large layout. It should be cautious and small.”

This LiveWire deal is anything but cautious and small: at the end of the fiscal, OnMobile had around Rs 151.8 crore, around $26.85 million in cash. This deal – approximately Rs 100 crore – apparently would bring the cash reserves down to Rs 51.8 crore if paid up-front, and add some liabilities

Read:

– Onmobile CEO Mouli Raman: No Plans To Go Direct To Consumer; Piloting Brand Supported mRadio
OnMobile FY13 Concall: Music Downloads, Unbilled Revenues, Investor Warns Against Any Large Acquisition
OnMobile India Revenues Decline 19.6% In FY13 To Rs 284.5 Cr; Total Revenues Rs 725.4 Cr

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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