Upstream works with mobile operators, e-commerce brands and app developers in 40 markets helping them to sell their products to mobile consumers through demand fulfillment marketing campaigns. Its clients include the Vodafone Group, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), MTN, T-Mobile and Etisalat.
The company has already generated an estimated $1bn of incremental revenue for its clients and grew its revenues by 61 per cent in 2013 with new services and markets being added on a monthly basis.
The investment in Upstream is a strong representation of Actis’ strategy of investing in well-managed businesses in high-growth sectors providing quality services to emerging market consumers, according to Acris partner Nick Luckock. “The evolution of how emerging market consumers use and purchase intangible goods from their mobile phones is one of the most significant secular trends we see in our markets. Mobile marketing businesses are at the center of promulgating and understanding these developments. Upstream, with its well-established business model, best in class technology platform, talented team, high-quality partner MNOs and exceptional track record of conversion and customer management, is an ideal investment for Actis.”
CEO and founder Marco Veremis has led the business since its foundation and will continue to lead the company after Actis’ investment.
There are currently 2.3 billion mobile subscribers in emerging markets who on average spend more than two hours a day playing, texting and talking on their phones. As a consequence, the mobile value added services sector in emerging markets generated $14bn in revenue and has grown at 30 per cent p.a. between 2010-2013. Building on its success with clients in Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Upstream plans to expand its current service offering and regional footprint and gain access to other high growth markets, it said.
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