Twitter to acquire Indian startup ZipDial in emerging markets play

ZipDial's office in Bangalore will operate as an engineering center for Twitter

Twitter black outline
Credit: Andreas Eldh

Twitter is to acquire ZipDial Mobile Solutions, a Bangalore company that has developed a platform that allows content like promotions to be delivered to users through voice, SMS or an app notification when an user gives a missed call.

The technology takes its cue from the tendency for cost-conscious Indians to signal that they want to talk to someone by placing a call and hanging up before the phone is answered, with the expectation that the other person will then call them back.

The acquisition of the ZipDial platform and its various technologies to address consumers is likely to be useful for Twitter in emerging markets where data access is expensive for consumers or is not easily available.

Users have to give an advertiser a toll-free "missed call" to a designated phone number to receive content through any of the channels.

"These interactions are especially appealing in areas where people aren't always connected to data or only access data through intermittent wifi networks," Christian Oestlien, Twitter's vice president for product, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

ZipDial CEO Valerie Wagoner said in a Twitter message that the goal of the deal was to "Make @twitter even more accessible in emerging markets."

"Our ambitious goal is to make Twitter's unique, great content accessible to 100% of the world's mobile users, including those in emerging markets who will be experiencing the mobile Internet for the first time," she wrote in a blog post.

The acquisition, which was rumored earlier, signals the coming of age for Indian technology startups. Facebook acquired last year Little Eye Labs, a developer in Bangalore of mobile app analysis tools for app developers and testers, and the entire team moved to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook, in its bid to popularize the Internet and its platform in emerging markets, has previously partnered with ZipDial to launch a "missed call" feature for advertisements on the social network.

Twitter said it had collaborated with ZipDial over the past two years on a variety of campaigns in India, including elections and film promotions.

The founders and employees of ZipDial will join Twitter's Indian operations, and ZipDial's office in Bangalore will operate as an engineering center for Twitter.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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