Perth-based mobile social networking company MOKO.Mobi has acquired US mobile site mbuzzy.com for up to $3 million in stock, as it attempts to make its mark in the US market.
Founded in 2004 by Ian Rodwell, MOKO.Mobi is a listed company that offers mobile phone users a social networking site where they can chat, upload photos and play games.
MOKO has 5.5 million users around the world through partnerships with major telcos including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile.
Under terms of the deal, MOKO will issue the owner of mbuzzy.com – US-based mobile content provider SendMe – 10% of its securities.
MOKO will also issue SendMe nine million listed options at 10 cents, including the provision of $5 million in placements over the next six months.
Rodwell says the deal solidifies the company’s presence in the US, adding 7.2 million registered mobile users and taking its total global user base to more than 12.7 million.
“This more than doubles our user base… and is a real fast-track way of planting our flag in the US,” he says.
Rodwell says MOKO has been looking at expanding in the US for several years, namely via the acquisition of complementary business units.
“This one came across our desk some time back and ticked all the boxes. It’s owned by a large mobile company, so they knew the space,” he says.
“Although they are quite large, they’re only in the US. They saw an opportunity to join forces with us and grow globally – their CEO is coming on to our board.”
Rodwell says the acquisition will serve as a stepping stone to further deals, not only in the US but in Europe and South East Asia so that “we’re spread out to cover that global footprint”.
“We can now go out and we can look for businesses in the same sort of category, and use our IT platform, our carrier relationships, etc and get economies of scale by bolting on these business units,” he says.
MOKO has around 35 staff, with offices in Perth, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the US. It also has partnerships in Dubai, Japan and the Philippines.
Rodwell says he saw an opportunity to specialise in the mobile space long before many of his competitors, particularly within the realm of social networking.
“I’ve been involved in multimedia and consumer digital design for quite a long time. I was around for the original dotcom [boom] and I saw an opportunity where mobile would be the next ‘wave’ of the internet,” he says.