Telecommunications giant América Móvil, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, has made a substantial investment heavily in Mobli, the Israeli startup announced yesterday.
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The investment by the company owned by the man considered the world's richest was part of a $60 million round of investment completed by the Israeli startup. Mobli is developing a social network for sharing photographs and videos. The startup would not reveal the size of América Móvil's investment. However, the size of the investment round was exceptionally large for a local cell phone app startup and even by the standards of U.S. mobile app developers.
As part of the investment, Mobli will also distribute its app to América Móvil's cellular phone customers. This step will enable Mobli to launch its visual search engine, which will allow surfers to conduct expanded searches to locate photos they shared in the past. the company said in a statement.
A senior figure in the Israeli mobile app industry said the size of the investment round seemed unreasonable, but a leading Israeli venture capitalist who has invested in mobile app startups disagreed. When it comes to investments, sometimes there is some momentum that overcomes everything else, he said.
Mobli, founded in 2009, has already been tied to a string of celebrity investors such as Hollywood stars Leonardo DeCaprio and Tobey Maguire, tennis champ Serena Williams and steroid-aided bicyclist Lance Armstrong. Mobli's cell phone app is also already on the map in many Latin American countries where América Móvil is a major player. According to the cellular app ranking service App Annie, Mobli's iOS app is ranked 71st in Mexico, 120th in Argentina and 202nd in Brazil. The startup's Android app is ranked 342nd in Argentina, 373rd in Brazil and 519th in Mexico.
Until the recent investment round, the company had raised $28.5 million from investors - the lion's share, some $20 million, coming from Kazakh investor Kenges Rakishev in August 2012.