mig33, a mobile social entertainment platform based in Singapore, announced today that it has acquired AlivenotDead (AnD), an online community for celebrities to connect with fans through official accounts. The acquisition of AnD, which was launched in Hong Kong five years ago by Rotten Tomatoes co-founder Patrick Lee, will help mig33 grow in emerging markets as it transitions away from its start as a messaging platform for featurephone users. The acquisition price was undisclosed.
Before switching its focus to smartphone users last year, mig33 had 70 million registered users on featurephones. But as more of its users started using smartphones, the company realized that it could not compete with messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, or Line, says co-founder and CEO Steven Goh.
The company’s new goal is to position itself as an open platform where artists and celebrities can connect with fans through official accounts. The acquisition of AnD gives mig33 access to more than 2,000 artists and the two sites will integrate by the end of this year. AnD COO Raffi Kamalian will stay on as AnD’s CEO and oversee the combined platform’s expansion throughout Asia and other emerging markets.
In its current iteration, mig33 has 3 million users, which is much less than the 70 million it had as a featurephone messaging platform. But Goh says that number has grown very quickly, with one million new users added since August.
mig33 plans to target growth in markets throughout Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Though most of the artists currently on AnD appeal to Chinese-speaking markets, it already has pockets of active users in India, Bangladesh, and Kenya. Goh hopes to leverage the combined platform’s existing roster to sign up celebrities in other countries.
“When we go to Indonesia or India and say that we have a relationship with a company that does some of Jackie Chan’s work, that will help us acquire other artist relationships in those countries as well. We have a team in Bollywood and we are also looking at sport stars,” says Goh.
In each market, mig33 will have to compete with existing platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as local social networking platforms like YY.com or Sina Weibo. The difference between mig33 and those sites, however, is that mig33 not only allow artists to open official accounts, but it also enables them to engage with followers by offering premium products like virtual gifts and games. mig33′s revenue-sharing model lets artists keep 30% to 50% of the money they earn through the site.
mig33 is proceeding towards a public listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) through a reverse takeover of Latin Gold, a mining company. The proceeds will allow mig33 to make more acquisitions in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Goh says mig33 is currently looking for companies that will give it access to media relationships, as well as online dating, gaming, and e-commerce startups.