Alibaba pours $215M in Tango's $280M Series D round

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Mar 20, 2014 08:53 AM EDT

Mobile messaging network Tango just received a $280 million investment from Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, VentureBeat reported.

Of the total investment, $215 million came from Alibaba while previous backers gave $65 million. Access Industries, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Qualcomm Ventures, Toms Capital, Translink Capital and investors like Bill Tai, Shimon Weintraub, Jerry Yang, Alex Zubillaga and others also invested $87 million in Tango in a previous funding round. With the proceeds from the recent round, Tango has raised $367 million in venture capital funding so far, the report said.

With Alibaba set to hold its public debut in the US, the investment underscores how both firms want to compete with the merger of Facebook and WhatsApp. It also highlights how valuable the added services of mobile messaging sites have become, the report said.

Tango Founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Setton told VentureBeat in an interview, "The disruption of the communications industry is well under way. This technology is disrupting established systems for distributing media."

Tango adds the element of fun to mobile messaging because it supports apps for games or sharing photos. Similar to other messaging systems like WhatsApp, Kakao, Line and WeChat, Tango allows conversations to take place more spontaneously in its modern-looking platform. There are now 200 million members using Tango, with monthly active users numbering 70 million, the report said.

In a statement, Alibaba Group Executive Vice Chairman 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."

As part of the deal, a minority stake will be held by Alibaba in Tango as well as a seat on the board of the mobile messaging network. However, the Chinese e-commerce giant is also set to promote Tango worldwide, the report said.

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