Alibaba gets Tango for its push into the U.S. and the whole Western world

It is a further proof point that in 2014: Jack Ma (Alibaba) going against Jeff Bezos (Amazon) et al. [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 8, 2014]. It is also a critical investment as Alibaba needs to have a market leading messaging and social networking app of its own to compete with the Facebook+WhatsApp combo. The aim of Tango after the huge $215M investment from Alibaba (which is giving them 21.5% majority stake) is no less than: 

… to build the WeChat of the Western world. We have all the WeChat features but each one of them is Westernized.

as was declared by Uri Raz, co-founder and CEO of Tango, in an interview to the Wall Sreet Journal. Quite an undertaking considering WhatsApp’s MAU (Monthly Active Users) of 450M and WeChat’s MAU of 355M versus that of the 70M+ MAU for Tango. Considering the details behind this announcement it is—nevertheless—quite feasible:

Tango Announcement [TangoME YouTube channel, March 19, 2014]

Tango announces a $280M round of funding led by Alibaba. Tango is a free mobile messaging service with 200M+ members. Through communication, social features and a compelling content platform, Tango members discover engaging ways to connect, get social and have fun. Download for FREE at http://www.tango.me on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, and PC.

From TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014] 

Funding

 Total funding to date: $367M

  • Series A – $5M (June 2010). Investors:
     MXB Holdings
     WR Hambrecht
     Long Sea Limited
  • Series B – $42M (June 2011). Investors: 4 
     DFJ
     SPA Special Investment Fund
  • Series C – $40M (March 2012). Investors:
     AI SMS
     Qualcomm
     DFJ
     Long Sea Limited
  • Series D – $280M (March 2014). Investors:
     Alibaba [$215M from Alibaba according to Wall Street Journal, which is giving a 21.5% majority stake as the company was valued at the time of Series D founding at $1B]
     DFJ
     Qualcomm Ventures
     Access Industries
     Translink Capital
     Toms Capital
     Jerry Yang
     Bill Tai
     Alex Zubillaga

Tango’s Latest News: A Vision of The Future and a $280M Funding Round [by Uri and Eric  in Tango Me Blog, March 19, 2014], note that my inserts below are from TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014] and the TangoME YouTube channel

We launched Tango in September 2009 out of the personal need to stay connected to our own families. It helped tremendously that both of us came from deep video technology backgrounds and had strong entrepreneurial spirits. But it was the emotional connection with family living in other parts of the world that inspired our mission here at Tango. Back then we felt that free online communication through texts, voice and video calls would remove barriers and change the world. The world agreed: we signed up our first million members in the first 10 days after launch.

Since then, we have been on quite a journey. The sheer power of free communication has changed the way we connect with others. Today, the amount of texting from over-the-top messaging apps surpasses carrier SMS. We’re proud that Tango has become a part of this industry disruption and even more excited that Tango has become a preferred place for our members to communicate and share with friends and family.

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

Last summer, Alibaba began blocking merchants on Taobao and Tmall from using WeChat to send promotional messages to shoppers. Tencent, meanwhile, added mobile payments last year and has been offering more services and shopping options on WeChat.

There are no immediate plans to connect the Tango app with the company’s various e-commerce services, though that could come over time, said a person familiar with the plans. Tango will operate separately from Laiwang.

Tango also expands Alibaba’s portfolio of fast-growing U.S. startups as the Chinese company tries to gain a foothold here. It led investments last year in app search-engine Quixey Inc. and two-day shipping provider ShopRunner Inc.

Alibaba’s cash will help Tango, based in Mountain View, Calif., to double its workforce to more than 300 this year and open up its service to more outside developers, Chief Executive Uri Raz said.

Mr. Raz said he began adding other services, such as games and photo sharing, after seeing the success of Asian texting apps such as WeChat, Kakao and Line. “We were looking at what happened in Japan and China,” Mr. Raz said. “It was the first time since 1999 that I saw the speed of innovation happening faster over there than here.”

From TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014]

What is Tango
Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif.
Tango is consistently in the top 25 on Google Play and top 100 in the iTunes App Store.
 
Tango is available in 14 languages and has subscribers in more than 224 countries with nearly one third of its members in the U.S.
 
Basic Stats
Year founded: 2009
Number of users: 200M+ (if Tango were a country it would be the 5th largest in the world)
Daily user base growth: 325K (average)
Monthly active users [MAU]: 70M+
[note that WhatsApp bought by Facebook has MAU of 450M and Alibaba’s major competitor Tencent’s WeChat MAU of 355M]

Global breakdown based on DAU
 27% U.S. (North America 31%)
 20% Asia
 12% Europe
 29% Middle East
 8% Other

Platform user base demographics:
 Gender neutral
 Over half between the ages 25-44
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, PC
Coverage: 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi
Number of iPhone/iPad users: 40% (whole user base)
Number of Android users: 60% (whole user base)
App store ranking:
 4.3 stars on Google Play
 4.5 stars on iTunes
Number of patents: 30 (4 approved – 26 pending)
Awards:
 Appy Awards: Best Communication App 2013
 About.com: Reader’s Choice 2013
 Webby nomination 2013
 Verizon’s Must Have Apps list 2013
Number of employees: 160
Total funding to date: $367M
Partners: 40+ game partners, 10+ Direct advertising partners, and Spotify on Music Messaging

While we’ve made progress on our mission to enable people to communicate, share and feel more connected, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible. The opportunity for Tango goes well beyond just providing a messaging app for free communications. We see an even bigger opportunity – one where people can have access to free communication, social networking features and enjoyable content – all within a single platform.

Over the past eight months, Tango has evolved.

  • We’ve introduced a content platform that is now home to more than 30 games.

My inserts here:
Connect & Play with Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, June 18, 2013]

Tango is partnering with Gameloft, Bubble Gum Interactive, and other world-class developers to bring great games to their messaging app.

– Games developed for Tango: 35+ games live
– Game developers for Tango: 50+ developers signed

  • We’ve introduced new social networking features that allow members to share updates or photos and to find new friends.

My insert here:
Find Friends Nearby with Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, July 18, 2013]

  • And we’ve introduced social music sharing through integration with Spotify, which means members can now send each other songs.

My inserts here:
Tango powered by Spotify video [TangoME YouTube channel, Nov 11, 2013]

Search, listen and share songs with your friends.

Tango music video featuring recording artist Riz – the first of its kind to be recorded using Google Glass [RizVEVO YouTube channel, Nov 11, 2013]

This is the FIRST ever music video shot entirely using Google Glass.

– Total Music Played: hundreds of millions

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

Tango joined with outside developers, such as game maker Gameloft Inc. and music-streaming service Spotify AB, to offer users a range of virtual activities inside the app. For example, Tango users can share 30-second clips of their favorite songs from Spotify or compete with their friends for the high score in the Gameloft title “Candy Block Breaker.” The company shares the revenue from purchases made inside the apps with the developers.

By the end of this year, Tango plans to open its software code to allow any outside developer to build games and other services for its users, Mr. Raz said.

The startup is also bolstering its revenue through mobile advertising. Last December, it began working with Twitter Inc.’s MoPub unit to sell ads within users’ news feeds and message inboxes, promoting apps made by Zynga Inc. and others.

Quite honestly, the results have blown us away. We’re excited by the 2x increase in daily engagement since last July. And we love it that our members are huge fans of music and love to send hundreds of millions of songs to their friends through Tango. These changes are reflected in huge growth in registered users: over the last year we’ve doubled to more than 200 million.

The way we see it, this is just the beginning for Tango. We believe that messaging apps will fundamentally change the way content and services are distributed. We are very excited to continue to build upon our foundation of free communications, while extending into new growth areas in social networking and content. We know that we can’t do it on our own, and for that reason, we couldn’t be more excited to announce our newest investor, Alibaba Group.

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

While the company has an office in Beijing and has seen rising usage in Thailand and Hong Kong, Asia isn’t currently a main area of focus for the company, Mr. Raz said.

Mr. Setton says the alliance with Alibaba will give Tango market insights that will help it beat rivals to new trends.

Rather than take on WeChat in China, Mr. Raz said he’s more focused on perfecting the model for U.S. users.

We want to build the WeChat of the Western world,” Mr. Raz said. “We have all the WeChat features but each one of them is Westernized.”

Together with some of our prior investors, Alibaba has lead a $280 million Series D funding round. [$215M from Alibaba according to Wall Street Journal, which is giving a 21.5% majority stake as the company was valued at the time of Series D founding at $1B.] As part of this financing, Michael Zeisser from Alibaba will join our Board of Directors. We welcome Alibaba’s investment in Tango. We know that we will be able to benefit from Alibaba’s expertise.

More on Tango as it is:

Tango – Connect, Get Social, Have Fun! [TangoME YouTube channel, March 12, 2014]

Tango is a free mobile messaging service with 200 million members. Through communication, social features and a compelling content platform, Tango members discover engaging ways to connect, get social and have fun. Tango is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and PC and works across platforms and networks. Download the app at http://www.tango.me.

Let’s Play – Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, Feb 21, 2014]

The award-winning messaging app now powers games around the world. Connect & Play with hundreds of millions of people around the world! Play with Tango!

Tango Free Voice, Video, and Text [TangoME YouTube channel, Sept 10, 2012]

Now you can send pictures with all of your Tango friends, or try playing out new game during a video call!

and its first year anniversary was proudly celebrated with the following achievements: Tango Turns One! [TangoME YouTube channel, Sept 30, 2011]

Check out the many milestones Tango achieved it’s first year out to market!

Tango’s market position as per Since Facebook Owns WhatsApp, Here Are 5 Alternative Messaging Services [ReadWrite, Feb 25, 2014]

You shouldn’t feel forced to relinquish your messaging data to Facebook.

Facebook stunned the tech world last week when it scooped up the messaging application WhatsApp for $19 billion.

The deal was largely heralded as a win for both sides: Facebook gained a much-needed service it hasn’t yet delivered on, and the small startup cashed in big time. But the downside of the acquisition fell heavily on the shoulders of users—those 450 million people [MAUmonthly active users] whose private data is now in the hands of Facebook.

If you’re a WhatsApp user who wants to break up with Facebook, or someone looking for a great new messaging application, we’ve put together a list of mobile messaging apps you should try.

Telegram

Almost five million people signed up for Telegram after Facebook bought WhatsApp. As a messaging service, it is sleek and easy to use. 

Telegram, which is built by a Berlin-based nonprofit, is cloud-based and heavily encrypted so users can use several devices to access their messages and documents including both mobile and desktop. The company also claims Telegram is a free service that will remain so in the future, meaning no advertisements or subscription fees will ever be levied on customers.

Telegram is available on iOS and Android. Developers can access and implement the app’s API through Telegram’s open source code.

Wickr

Snapchat’s sophisticated competitor Wickr brings government-strength security and encryption to your messages. Wickr lets you send self-destructing messages, documents, photos, videos and voice calls that disappear after a select amount of time.

Wickr is entirely anonymous, as the application doesn’t ask for any of your personal information. Wickr is also exceeds top secret and HIPAA compliance, so people in medical, law enforcement, and journalism fields can feel confident using Wickr for secure messaging knowing it can’t be traced or reproduced. 

Wickr is available on iOS and Android.

Line

Line is one of the most popular messaging services on the market for free voice and video calling. 

The app is massively popular internationally, especially in Asia, and it finally entered the U.S. market earlier this year. Line is more than just a simple messaging application—it has branched out to offer in-app games and a variety of standalone apps like Line Camera and Line Tools. While the app is free, additional services like stickers and games provide revenue for the company. In the first quarter of 2013, Line made $17 million off sticker sales alone

Line is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry

Kik

Kik is the world’s first messaging application with a built-in browser. The application boasts over 100 million users, a majority coming from North America and Western Europe.

Kik has over 30 HTML5 experiences built into the application for sharing pictures, videos and gaming, according to the company, and recently launched the in-app browser. Kik has also created open source tools to help developers build and optimize their websites for mobile. 

Kik is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.

Tango

Tango, like Line, offers an all-inclusive social app with games, music, video, and voice and text messaging. The San Francisco-based company says the app has 150 million [200 million as of March 19, 2014] users. 

Because of the additional features that extend beyond voice calling and messaging, users of more traditional messaging services like WhatsApp may find the interface a bit confusing, but users can personalize their profiles to find and make friends or discover people you may know nearby. 

Tango is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone [was on WP7 back in 2011, but it is not on WP8].

Breaking Up Is Hard

It’s inconvenient to switch to an entirely new messaging service, especially if all your friends are dedicated to one app. But you shouldn’t feel forced to turn over your data to Facebook either. All these applications provide messaging services that rival WhatsApp, without the commitment to Facebook services, meaning you’re not turning over your mobile phone book and payment information to the social network in exchange for an efficient messaging service.

About Nacsa Sándor

Lazure Kft. • infokommunikációs felhő szakértés • high-tech marketing • elérhetőség: snacsa@live.com Okleveles villamos és automatizálási mérnök (1971) Munkahelyek: Microsoft, EMC, Compaq és Digital veterán. Korábban magyar cégek (GDS Szoftver, Computrend, SzáMOK, OLAJTERV). Jelenleg Lazure Kft. Amire szakmailag büszke vagyok (időrendben visszafelé): – Microsoft .NET 1.0 … .NET 3.5 és Visual Studio Team System bevezetések Magyarországon (2000 — 2008) – Digital Alpha technológia vezető adatközponti és vállalati szerver platformmá tétele (másokkal együttes csapat tagjaként) Magyarországon (1993 — 1998) – Koncepcionális modellezés (ma használatos elnevezéssel: domain-driven design) az objektum-orientált programozással kombinált módon (1985 — 1993) – Poszt-graduális képzés a miniszámítógépes szoftverfejlesztés, konkurrens (párhuzamos) programozás és más témákban (1973 — 1984) Az utóbbi időben általam művelt területek: ld. lazure2.wordpress.com (Experiencing the Cloud) – Predictive strategies based on the cyclical nature of the ICT development (also based on my previous findings during the period of 1978 — 1990) – User Experience Design for the Cloud – Marketing Communications based on the Cloud
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