News Article

Jana Mobile Receives $15 Million Strategic Investment from Publicis Groupe
Date: Jul 15, 2013
Source: The Wall Street Journal ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Jana of Boston, MA

Publicis Groupe [EURONEXT Paris: FR0000130577] (Paris:PUB) is making a $15 million strategic investment in Jana Mobile, the global company that rewards consumer action in emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. This is the first direct investment Publicis Groupe has made in a mobile technology startup, and as part of the $15 million investment, Publicis Groupe Charmain and CEO Maurice Lévy will join Jana's Board of Directors. Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of VivaKi, will join Jana's Board of Advisors.

Based in Boston, Jana has built the world's largest rewards platform in the fastest-growing markets, where mobile airtime is often viewed as equivalent to cash. By integrating into the billing systems of 237 mobile operators in 102 countries, Jana can instantly reward 3.48 billion emerging market consumers with prepaid airtime in local currency. Many global corporations are already using Jana to understand, acquire, and retain emerging market consumers. Jana's airtime platform rewards such consumer actions as trial (registration, app downloads), engagement (watching a video), advocacy (referring a friend), and product purchase (airtime rebates). With every action that it rewards, Jana delivers rich consumer insights to participating marketers.

"I have been personally attracted and convinced to invest directly in this platform as I see it as the next big thing in the communication industry. Consumers in these dynamic markets are spending 10 percent of their daily income on mobile airtime, while global advertisers are spending more than $150 billion to reach them through traditional advertising channels," said Maurice Lévy. "With its platform, Jana is changing the face of advertising by enabling us to invest in targeted, mobile-based campaigns that put advertising dollars directly into the pockets of the 'next billion' consumers our clients are most eager to reach. As a result, brands become more valuable to people, and people become more economically empowered. I am confident that Jana will help consumers in those markets to have a better life."

Clients can also target offers to Jana's membership, which is amassed through a consumer-facing platform called mCent. In exchange for participating in an offer, such as filling out a survey or purchasing a product, members are rewarded with mobile airtime. Over the past six months, mCent membership has exploded, with more than 6 million opt-in members registered and over a million new emerging market consumers joining every month.

"Our self-serve product, launching today, enables anyone to send airtime in over 70 currencies to billions of emerging market consumers," said Nathan Eagle, co-founder and CEO, Jana. "Our partnership with Publicis Groupe brings value that goes far beyond a financial investment. Their vision, advertising expertise and client relationships will undoubtedly create even more opportunities for our members to earn airtime through our platform."

Rishad Tobaccowala, who is assuming an advisory role with Jana, leads the Ventures practice that will orchestrate the introduction of Jana across all Publicis Groupe agencies to drive adoption and scale.

"As a digital accelerator for Publicis Groupe, VivaKi comes in contact with many pioneering companies that empower us to move faster into key markets and develop new products with unparalleled efficiency," he said. "The Jana relationship will help us disrupt traditional ad models and connect our clients to the world's fastest growing populations where mobile adoption is far outpacing other technologies."

The Publicis Groupe's strategic investment brings Jana's total capital raised to approximately $25 million from investors including Todd Dagres (Spark Capital), Rohini Chakravarty (NEA), Jon Miller (AOL / News Corp), Paul Sagan (Akamai) and Esther Dyson.