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Twitter in talks to acquire India based mobile tech startup Zipdial

January 15, 2015
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Update: Twitter has acquired India based "Missed Call" startup Zipdial. There are reports floating around the web saying that Zipdial has been acquired for $30mn.

The Bangalore-based Zipdial has developed a marketing and analytics platform linking businesses and users through a unique application - The missed call.

Social-media giant Twitter plans to make its first acquisition in India in mobile technology services startup ZipDial. This news is a huge boost for Indian entrepreneurs after Facebook and Yahoo acquired Little Eye Labs and Bookpad respectively. LittleEyeLabs is an app performance analyzer platform whereas Bookpad are the makers of file editing and collaboration software. There were stories floating around that Twitter was looking at an analytics company Frrole, although no deal finalized. ZipDial would be Twitter’s first acquisition in India if the deal goes through.

*Zomato acquires Urbanspoon

*Alibaba to invest in Indian startup Paytm

Experts said the deal, if successful, could be a game changer for Twitter, as mobile advertising becomes a big revenue earner for the company. Zipdial brings in user preferences for brands in tier 2 and tier 3 cities where smartphones are yet to make an entry.

Technology news portal TechCrunch reported on Tuesday that the Twitter-Zipdial deal will be worth worth $30 - $40 million. ZipDial was founded in 2010 by a team of technology entrepreneurs - U.S. transplant Valerie Wagoner (CEO), Amiya Pathak (the COO who has also worked and studied across India and the U.S.), and Sanjay Swamy (chairman and an active investor in other startups).

If the deal gets done, it would be the latest in a string of startups in India getting acquired by U.S. companies keen to capitalize on the opportunity to pick up talent, information and traffic in a very huge market — considered to be one of the fastest-growing and potentially the biggest in the world.

Twitter had partnered with ZipDial earlier to enable users to get tweets from celebrities over SMS on their mobile phones. ZipDial had also partnered with Facebook to launch an innovative advertisement format with missed calls. When users click on “missed call” in a particular advertisement on the social network, they will get alerts from the brand.

ZipDial’s service is big business. In 2013, it had already clocked up campaigns totalling around 400 million hung up calls and claims to take care of over 900 mn engagements across 7,000 campaigns (it’s not clear if that’s the same metric but sounds like it could be). It says that more than 500 brands, including a lot of distinguishable names like Disney, P&G and Colgate, are customers on its platform.

ZipDial has been trying to expand outside India and explore the Southeast Asian markets.

Mobile brings huge business for Twitter. 80% of the MAUs(Monthly active users) are from mobile and more than 80% of the revenue is generated via mobile ads, ads being Twitter’s primary revenue generator.

Twitter noted in its Q3 financials that about 78% of its 284 million MAUs were international users, but it is only making about 34% of its revenues outside the U.S.. The world (barring the U.S) is a large but still underdeveloped market for the social network.

Twitter needs to find ways to target new mobile consumers and tap into user behaviours that are already popular/more natural to those audiences (like hanging up as a call alert). Hence, ZipDial becomes an appealing buy. “Reach the next 3 billion with ZipDial,” it says in its promotional material.

In the next five years, industry analysts estimate that at least 40 technology ventures in India could be bought over by large corporations.

Social networking companies have been trying to monetise their huge user base in the country. And as the Indian users become more and more engaged in the mobile and social media market, the investment for the big corporations will not stop pouring in!


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