Celebrity endorsements are very useful things, but when it comes to investing, who would you rather listen to, Leonardo DiCaprio or Carlos Slim?
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 America Movil
(NYSE:AMX) 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 the Standard & Poor’s Latin America 40 Index
At the moment, Mobli is barely a blip compared to Instagram, owned by Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB), 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 Twitter
(NYSE:TWTR) 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 social media.
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 second only
to the US in total number of user accounts. The Twitter top-20 countries list also includes Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina.
For Facebook, it is the world’s fastest-growing region
, with an annual increase of 88% as of June 2012.
Even Latin America’s leaders
are nuts for social media. According to The Economist
, 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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