The 4 year-old company and strong Google competitor in mobile advertising, InMobi, has just received USD 200m from SoftBank.
The funding will take place in two tranches, 100m this month and another guaranteed 100m in April 2012. If you take into account that inMobi is from India, this could very well be one of the largest round of investment ever for this area of the world.
Google had purchased AdMob almost two years ago, cementing its leader position in the market. InMobi just bought Sprout, a US-based startup that facillitates the serving of HTML5 ads. Both have offices in Tokyo.
Asia’s number 1?
Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO, has an interesting justification on this funding decision:
We believe this partnership will help softBank become the number one Internet company in Asia
That’s bold. Very Son-like.
SoftBank already invested in Yahoo! Japan, a separate company from the rest of the world more than 15 years ago, around which it will release an Android smartphone —for now called the Yahoo! Phone (I wonder, why not the YPhone?).
It recently partnered with DropBox for its Asian expansion, but also invested in the luxury travel specialist Gilt Group, the social gaming mammoth Zynga or the live streaming service UStream.
By all accounts, SoftBank can already be named as a big player in the online space in Japan.
The goal of becoming number 1 in Asia is still a long shot. It reminds me a bit of the pledge of many other japanese web companies willing to internationalize, using their massive cash reserves.
Now, the recent row with Alibaba about its payment system Alipay proves that money isn’t enough a strategy.
But if one man can do it from Japan, it might very well be Son.