Twitter Inc., has announced it will acquire Indian mobile phone marketing start-up ZipDial as the U.S. microblogging service looks to expand in the world’s second-biggest mobile market. The deal is said to be in the region of $30 million.
One of the founders of ZipDial is California-born Valerie Wagoner who moved to India and was intrigued by the Indian ‘missed call’ system – where people call each other, let the phone ring once or twice and intentionally hang up, using the missed call to convey a message. Since consumers hang up before the call connects, no charges are incurred.
ZipDial’s clients include International Business Machines Corp., Yum! Brands Inc., KFC and Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, Disney, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter. Each company is assigned a special phone number which consumers can call. The call automatically disconnects after one ring. The companies then communicate with the consumer via text messages providing information, services, or even staging contests, thereby promoting their services. The technology is “especially appealing in areas where people aren’t always connected to data or only access data through intermittent Wi-Fi networks,” Twitter said in a blog post.
“Twitter has struggled with not only growing user base in the past year, but also with engaging with their existing user base,” Neha Dharia, a Bangalore-based analyst for Ovum Plc, said by e-mail. “If used effectively, ZipDial could help them in growing their active-user numbers.”
“This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great growth,” Twitter said in a statement.