Bubble Motion receives additional US$5M from Japan's Largest VC, JAFCO, to continue rapid global expansionBy Jacky Yap 24 Aug, 2012
With more than 19 million users and hundreds of celebrities across the globe onboard, Bubble Motion has just announced an additional $5M investment from Japan’s largest venture capitalist firm, JAFCO. The fresh new fund will be used for further global expansion.
Voice blogging service Bubble Motion also previously received funding from Sequoia Capital, Singtel Innov8, Comcast, NGC and Infocomm Investments.
To focus more into Asian countries
Bubble Motion is headquartered in Singapore with operations in Silicon Valley, India, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. With the new fund, it will be used to push deeper into countries like India, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines as well as the broader global market such as Hollywood. Part of the success and high adoption from these markets can be attributed to high number of local celebrities whom are on Bubble Motion. Launch in March 2012, the Bubbly iPhone app allows users to follow celebrities, sports stars and other well-known users, letting users move beyond just reading celebrity posts to actually hearing updates recorded in their own voice. In conjunction with the funding announcement, Bubble Motion also announced the hiring of Justin Mann, former senior engineering manager at Microsoft in China, as its new Chief Architect.
Huge interests from various investment groups
CEO of Bubble Motion, Tom Clayton also shared that they had to turn down a lot of inbound interest. As revealed by TheNextWeb, some of the offers Bubble Motion had to turn down was the one from the Saudi Prince Alwaleed. The new funding by JAFCO was taken purely on the basis of strategic value, rather than a need for capital. Back in July last year, Bubble Motion also secured a partnership deal with Indonesia’s Telkomsel. Both the partnership with Telkomsel and JAFCO reflect the importance of strategic value for Bubble Motion. “But with such a prestigious and well-connected VC like JAFCO, we know they can add tremendous value to our business across Asia, especially in Japan, so it was a no brainer to accept this investment.” The new investment will also bring the total amount of investments to $50Million.
CEO of Bubble Motion on how they get their traction in the various regional market
We also interviewed Tom back in 2010 where he shared why voice blogging is skyrocketing in Asia. Tom shared that “the beauty of BubbleBlog is that voice is authentic (you can’t fake it being from someone else), voice conveys emotion and nuance (tone can be hard on email or text), and voice isn’t constrained by character limits.” For its explosive adoption in Indonesia, Tom also revealed that the partnership with XL Axiata, an Indonesia-based mobile telecommunications services operator helped a lot. “Our recent focus now has been on launching with the market leading operators in our key markets, and facilitating inter-operability of the service between multiple operators in a single market. This way, bloggers and followers can easily connect through our service, regardless of which telecom they use. This ubiquity will allow the ‘network effect’ to really take hold and make the service more valuable for everyone.”
Read on for the full press release.
SINGAPORE (August 23, 2012) – Bubble Motion, creator of the leading voice blogging service with over 19 million users and hundreds of celebrities across Asia and the globe, announced today that JAFCO Asia, the largest and most prestigious venture capital firm in Japan, has invested $5M in the company.
This strategic investment will be used by Bubble Motion to push deeper into core Asian countries like India, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines as well as the broader global market. Bubble Motion will also continue to scale its technology platform, which has become a very popular voice-based mobile social networking service across Asia. The company plans to broaden its product offering on smartphones and feature phones to diversify the ways in which its users use and interact with the service. Bubble Motion previously received funding from Sequoia Capital, Singtel Innov8, Comcast, NGC and Infocomm Investments.
In the past six months, Bubble Motion has hit significant milestones. The company’s flagship service, Bubbly, has reached the 19 million-user mark as well as launched its app globally on all iPhone and Android phones, which was ‘Featured’ on all of the country App Stores across Asia. Bubble Motion is also announcing the hiring of Justin Mann, former senior engineering manager at Microsoft in China, as its new Chief Architect.
“We have known Bubble Motion for quite some time and have always been impressed by the caliber of the core team in Singapore,” says Murli Ravi, Head of South Asia for JAFCO, “and after we saw their phenomenal growth in Japan as well as the other countries in Asia, we felt like we really wanted to be an investor in the company.”
“We have had to turn down a lot of inbound interest lately, because we simply haven’t been looking to raise any more funds,” says Tom Clayton, CEO of Bubble Motion. “But with such a prestigious and well-connected VC like JAFCO, we know they can add tremendous value to our business across Asia, especially in Japan, so it was a no brainer to accept this investment.”
With Bubbly now accessible via both smartphones and feature phones, it’s officially the first voice-based communication platform that brings together all mobile users even if they have no smartphone or data connection. To use Bubbly, people simply record their message on their mobile phone and post it to their account to share with friends and followers. Unlike other social media sites, Bubbly lets users share updates using their voice — allowing for real feeling and emotion to come through when listening to what others have to say.
About Bubble Motion
Bubble Motion is pioneering social communication for mobile phones. Bubble Motion’s Bubbly is a social messaging service where people share SMS and voice updates with friends, family, fans and followers. Bubbly is like ‘Twitter with a voice’ and brings social networking to mobile phones.
About JAFCO Asia
JAFCO Asia is the Asia Pacific focused investing subsidiary of JAFCO in Japan, which was established since 1973 and is Japan’s first and leading venture capital firm. JAFCO currently manages more than ¥530 billion in capital throughout Asia, Europe and United States. Globally, JAFCO and its group companies have invested in more than 3,700 portfolio companies of which more than 900 have gone public.
JAFCO Asia, headquartered in Singapore, was established in 1990 and has grown to become a leading venture capital firm in the Asia Pacific region. JAFCO Asia now has offices across Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai. With more than US$1.2 billion in funds cumulatively under management to date, JAFCO Asia’s experienced investment team has invested in over 423 companies in 13 countries and profitably exited more than 319 companies of which over 100 have gone public.