Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce giant, on Thursday announced it is investing $215 million in Tango, a Silicon Valley mobile messaging service, claiming it to be the company’s largest investment into a US start-up till date.
The China based company’s investment announcement follows Facebook’s $19bn investment in WhatsApp, a Tango rival, last month.
Alibaba’s investment in tango will help the company earn a minority stake and seat on Tango’s board. The companies however did not disclose how much the investment values Tango.
In 2012, when the mobile messaging startup last raised money, it was valued at around $300 million.
Tango, which claims to have 70 million monthly active users and 200 million registered users, enable users to make video and voice calls, along with text messaging.
The messaging app Tango is available in 14 languages and has members in more than 224 countries with the US and the Middle East being its two largest markets accounting for about a quarter of the overall users.
Tango co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Setton said the investment made by Alibaba is by far the largest funding the company has ever received.
“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.
“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.”
Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, announcing the investment said “Tango has exhibited tremendous growth because of its unique approach to combine free communications, social and content.”
“We were simply blown away by the vision and quality of the team at Tango and believe they have a disruptive way of looking at the mobile and messaging opportunity”.
The news comes in time when Alibaba is preparing for an initial public offering in the US as early as April 2014.