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Tango calls in $215M investment from Alibaba

Chinese e-commerce giant gets a minority stake and seat on Tango's board with its investment, giving the U.S. messaging company its biggest round of founding to date, totaling US$280 million.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Tango has secured US$280 million in its latest round of funding with Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, leading the cash grab and gaining a seat on the U.S. messaging company's board. 

Tango said Alibaba will pump in US$215 million while the remaining US$65 million will come from its previous investors including Access Industries, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Qualcomm Ventures, reported CNET News. The investment will give Alibaba a seat on Tango's board as well as a minority stake in the video and text messaging company.  

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Tango said its registered user base doubled to 200 million over the past year, with monthly active users hitting 70 million. Co-founder and CTO Eric Setton told CNET the latest funding coup was the company's largest to date, compared to the previous round which raised US$87 million. 

"This round really validates our vision of going beyond simple messaging," Setton said, adding that daily user engagement had increased since the company introduced more social features such as song-clip sharing and collaborative gameplay. "People are starting to see what is the role of these mobile messaging services, not only connecting people but helping them discover media and services. That is a massive opportunity."

He said the new funds will go toward hiring new talent, particularly in engineering, expanding the company's growth globally, and developing more content to the Tango platform such as exclusives with musicians. Some 25 percent of its users live in the U.S., and the company has a large presence in the Middle East as well as Asian market such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. 

Alibaba last week confirmed it will launch its IPO in the U.S., which is estimated to put the company's value at over US$100 billion. In its latest fiscal third-quarter report, the company clocked a net profit of US$792 million on revenue of US$1.78 billion, up 51 percent from the previous quarter. 

The company has been investing efforts to expand its portfolio into the mobile and cloud space, as it looks to gain an upper hand on rival, Tencent. In January, Alibaba pledged to give the bulk of sales generated on its mobile games platform back to developers, keeping just 10 percent of sales proceeds. The company is also looking to grow its cloud business, Aliyun, with plans to set up data centers to support local enterprises as well as its international operations.

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