Celebrity endorsements are very useful things, but when it comes
to investing, who would you rather listen to, Leonardo DiCaprio or
In this case, tough choices are not necessary. Both the movie star
and the world's richest man have put their money on New York-based
video and photo-sharing site Mobli. DiCaprio reportedly put in
about $4 million, while Slim, through his
) telecom, has just announced he will invest $60 million.
Slim's investment turns Mobli overnight from a well-funded Internet
start-up to a very well-funded Internet start-up indeed.
But it's about more than money up front. The day the news came out,
America Movil downloaded the Mobli app to 10,000 of its customers,
placing it in a folder labeled "Ideas," with
plans to continue
downloading it to all of its subscribers.
America Movil has about 60 million customers who own smartphones,
among a total of 246 million mobile subscribers in the 18 countries
it serves throughout Latin American and the Caribbean. It's the
world's fourth largest mobile network operator, and a component of
Standard & Poor's
Latin America 40 Index
At the moment, Mobli is barely a blip compared to Instagram, owned
), in user numbers and name recognition. Mobli has about 5 million
active monthly users, and about 12 million registered users. The
Instagram mobile app has been downloaded about 150 million times.
There are other strong competitors as well. Keek, a Canadian app,
claims 45 million users, a majority of them young and female. It
has been described as a video version of
) for its focus on short, real-time contributions.
Carlos Slim is ready to give both of them a run for the money, at
least in his own territory. And it is a very good territory for
Latin Americans are, it seems, incredibly sociable people. They
spend an average of 10 hours a month on social media sites, twice
the global average, according to Web
analytics firm ComScore
. The region's Internet population is the world's fastest-growing,
up 12% in a year to more than 147 million as of last March.
On Twitter, Brazil is
to the US in total number of user accounts. The Twitter top-20
countries list also includes Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and
For Facebook, it is the world's
, with an annual increase of 88% as of June 2012.
Latin America's leaders
are nuts for social media. According to
, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez once tweeted 34 times in
32 minutes, but she was just being too verbose for the format.
Mobli, founded in 2010, already had an international strategy.
Created by three Israeli entrepreneurs but now based in New York,
the site is integrated with Vkontakte and OdnoKassniki, social
networks that are popular among Russian language speakers, as well
as with Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Traffic from the US tops the site at close to 38%, followed by
Brazil at 11% and Mexico at 9%,
according to 2012 data
from Alexa Internet, a user data service.
Before the America Movil investment, it had attracted about $28
million, the bulk of it from a single angel investor, Kenges
Rakishev, of Kazakhstan. Smaller but higher profile investments and
promotional opportunities have come from tennis champion Serena
Williams and actor Tobey Maguire as well as DiCaprio.
Mobli's focus is on real-time videos and photos that enable its
community to share the moment. Its "live" search function lets
users tune in on the action in real-time.
Founder and CEO Moshiko Hogeg says he got the idea during a concert
as, surrounded by fans holding up their smartphones, he found
himself wishing he could experience the concert from every angle.
Mobli will use part of the windfall from America Movil to develop a
"visual search engine" that will allow users to sort through past
and present videos on the site,
according to TechCrunch
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