It looks like mobile messaging company SMSGupShup is shifting its focus to enterprise segment and has launched a new subscription-free application called TeamChat, which looks like a mobile only version of Yammer. When you click on download link from SMSGupShup website you’re taken to the TeamChat app on the store instead of its older messaging app, “GupShup”. NextBigWhat pointed out the possible change in strategy first.
SMSGupshup is in an extremely crowded market with its vanilla messaging client as it competes with WhatsApp (which got acquired by Facebook today), Viber (acquired by Japanese Internet giant Rokuten earlier this week), Line, WeChat, ChatON (Samsung), Hike, Rocketalk, Mig33, Imsy, JaxtrSMS, Pinch (Affle), among others, and maybe even Blackberry’s BBM service. That being the case, this shift to enterprise messaging sounds like a good decision, but this too is a very crowded market with companies such as Yammer, Chatter, MangoApps, SocialText, Igloo and SocialCast to name a few.
GupShup has apparently raised over $47 million in the past 5 years, among them, $10 million in 2011 from Tenaya Capital and included existing investors Lloyd George, New Horizons, Charles River Ventures, Helion Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners, and $12 million from Globespan Capital Partners, Charles River Ventures and Helion VP, and $11 million in 2008 from Helion and Charles River Ventures.
Change is the only constant
Gupshup started as Webaroo, as a company that made online content available offline on memory devices, after which it launched an SMS based group messaging service called SMSGupshup. It was called a social network (it was never really a network), then the Twitter of India, which it really wasn’t. That business was killed by regulations, due to which they shifted to being a web based messaging platform, a little too late in a market dominated by Whatsapp. This is yet another change in strategy for a company that was, frankly, banking on what was always going to become outdated – first with taking the Internet offline, then SMS, which got disrupted by the Internet.
They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, but it’s hard for something to grow on something that’s always moving.
WhatsApp for business: What seems to distinguish TeamChat from the rest is its focus on messaging while the others offer chat as just a feature. It even lets you connect existing ERP, CRM, CSR, SFA and other enterprise systems using backend APIs. It also allows threaded responses to messages, which the company calls “chatlets”.
Teamchat uses email ids for authentication, unlike other messaging apps which rely on mobile number. The advantage is that the company can ensure that no one can join a group without an official id. It also ensures that access to the chat history can be cut off when a person leaves an organisation. That said, it does allow admins to relax the rules and invite people who do not have official ids. The advantage for individuals is that they can use the service on their tablets too as does not need to be connected to the mobile network.
Overall, this is an interesting approach: I know of several non-tech SMBs in India that are using WhatsApp to communicate with their clients and have groups for employees. That is the market SMSGupshup is targeting with this new app. However, it’s not clear how many people are looking for such an app or how the company plans to monetise this product.
We’d heard that Gupshup is now mostly a bulk messaging company, but we haven’t yet heard back from Gupshup founder Beerud Sheth despite trying to contact him a few times today.