Tango, a messaging app and mobile social network, has raised $280 million, largely from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Alibaba contributed $215 million and holds a minority stake in the company. Existing Tango investors put in the remaining $65 million.
Tango is a free messaging service like WhatsApp and Viber, companies that were recently acquired for billions of dollars. In addition to letting users send free video messages back and forth, it also lets them send texts, pictures, games, content and music clips. Eric Setton, CTO and co-founder of Tango, says 70 million of its 200 million registered users are active every month.
Setton says Tango first started fundraising a few months ago before the $19 billion WhatsApp deal. When we asked how it felt to watch a competitor get bought for that price he replied, "It's extremely exciting. People are seeing this space with new eyes and what [these networks] can mean for the future."
He says the money will be used to continue building a social content platform for mobile. “A whole new level of connection and sharing of experiences is available through messaging apps that fundamentally affects the way content gets distributed on mobile,” he said in a release. "This round of funding will enable us to continue to innovate, hire the best talent, aggressively expand our content partnerships, and build a world-class platform as we go after what is truly a big opportunity."
Mountain View, Calif.,-based Tango was founded in 2009 by Setton and Uri Raz. It has 160 employees and $367 million raised to date. The service is free, and it makes money by selling additional features, such as filters that can be used on photos and video chats. It doesn't charge for a premium product or limit its service for nonpaying users. "We monetize in ways that doesn't inhibit growth," says Setton.
Alibaba is preparing to go public and it's invested in a few other startups, such as e-commerce companies 1stdibs and ShopRunner.
Here's a video about how Tango works:
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