The success of Talkbox, a mobile app that allows users to communicate by voice message has inspired many other companies to clone and ‘innovate’ upon the idea. Now a mainland Chinese clone called Shenliao, has raised a record breaking funding (for one mobile app) of US$30 million or 190 million RMB, in venture capital to develop this app further. This brings total funding to 500 million RMB. Shenliao is reported one of the leading free voice messaging mobile softwares in China, with over 1 million users.
Shenliao’s R&D is lead by an impressive team with staff from Sina, Rising, Fetion etc. When Talkbox was starting to get popular, I interviewed Jacquiline Chong, Director of Marketing of Talkbox to find out the story behind it. Since then, Shenliao has been working different versions for various operating systems.
The iOS version will include additional features on top of voice messaging, including sending fun text messages as well as high-definition pictures, fully optimized message threading and global phone number verification. Additionally, another cool feature for iPhone users, is the ability to simply use the earphone to send and receive a voice message, without looking at the screen. The Symbian version which runs on Nokia, allows people to detect people in the same vicinity. The Android version features the most functionality with faster response, a news channel and accessing more location based information.
Shenliao CEO, Wang Rui says that his team will focus on a technology driven innovation strategy. He will use the monster round of financing to continue to expand his technical and product development team.
Why does a mobile app need that much funding? It seems like a ridiculous amount, considering the cost of operating a team in China is about six times less than America. However, if Shenliao does have the power to give free communication to China’s smart-phone hungry population, $30 million may be needed!