18.03.2011 Badoo.com Breaks Zynga’s Facebook App Dominance

Badoo has now overtaken Zynga’s FarmVille to become the 2nd most popular application on Facebook with over 56 Million MAU (Monthly Active Users), surpassing all Non Game based Facebook Applications across the World.

For the first time in over 12 months, Zynga does not hold the Number 1 and 2 most popular Facebook Apps globally as measured by AppData.com, an independent application traffic tracking service.

The staggering growth of Badoo’s App confirms the rising importance of social networking in the application ecosystem. The growth has also highlighted the benefit of Badoo products and services being “cross platform”, available to use on the Web, Mobile and Desktop. Badoo users currently enjoy meeting new guys & girls on the Badoo.com website, using the Desktop Application, iPhone App and Android App. In the future, users will also benefit from a WAP site, Blackberry App and constantly innovating Facebook App.

13.09.2010 Finam Capital completes exit from Astrostar

Astrostar.ru, Direct Group and Finam Capital announce the completion of the transaction under which Direct Group acquired 100% of LLC “Astrostar.ru, Russia’s largest online provider of astrological content and services.

Astrostar was founded in 2006, Finam Capital acquired a 30% stake in the project a year later. Astrostar successfully grew to become the leader in the “infotainment” content market in Russia. This deal is the third in a row for Finam Capital this year, following the exit Alawar in February and acquisition of Banki.ru in July.

“We are satisfied with the completed transaction. Each party achieved its goals: the founders received the exit proceeds to start a new business, and Direct Group received a significant edge in a promising market. Finam Capital as a venture capital firm will reinvest proceeds from the sale of Astrostar for new equity deals in the Russian TMT sector”, said Alexey Basov, Director at Finam Capital.

06.07.2010 Finam Capital invests in minority stake of Banki.ru

Finam Capital acquired a significant minority stake in Banki.ru, Russia’s largest online financial information provider. The funds will be used to expand the service offerings of Banki.ru. “We’ve been watching Banki.ru for a few years and became convinced about the success of their business model” said Victor Remsha, the Chairman of Finam Group.

Finam Capital, a leading Internet investor in Russia, will receive Board representation and will leverage its financial resources and network to help Banki.ru grow a profitable business. “We are excited about closing the deal with Finam’ said Philippe Ilyin-Adaev”, the founder of Banki.ru. “We value their experience in the Internet space and share their approach to managing growth. Banki.ru will maintain its independent role as a value-added information intermediary between banks and their customers”.

Banki.ru Group includes several successful financial information portals,i.e. banki.ru, allbanks.ru, allleasing.ru and autorenter.ru.

Finam Capital has been active in private equity investment since 2003 and backed 17 companies operating in Russia’s TMT sector. The largest portfolio companies include Begun, context advertising agency, Mamba, the leading online dating site in Russia and Badoo.com, a large international social networking site.

04.02.2010 Almaz Capital Partners purchases shares in Alawar Entertainment from Finam Capital.

SAN FRANCISCO and MOSCOW, February 4, 2010 – Alawar Entertainment today announced that venture capital firm Almaz Capital Partners, general partner of Almaz Capital Russia Fund I (also known as Almaz Capital/Cisco Russia Fund I), signed an agreement with Finam Capital to purchase Finam’s equity stake in Alawar Entertainment. Under the terms of the transaction, Almaz Capital Partners will acquire a 23% stake in the company, which Finam acquired after several rounds of investments starting August 2007.

According to the Casual Games Association, the international casual games market reached $2.7 billion in annual in 2009, with 30 percent of all new games being created in Eastern Europe. Within this space, Alawar has significantly bolstered its position as the leading distributor of casual games on the Russian segment of the Internet by developing its own Web sites and expanding its partnership network. The company released over 60 new gaming products for various platforms, including PC, Mac, iPhone, Sony PlayStation 3, J2ME and Android. Throughout 2009 Alawar launched its own distribution network for Ukraine, Poland, Germany and Finland. Over the past two and a half years the company’s capitalization has more than quadrupled, while average turnover growth has reached 120% per year in the past three years.

“During our cooperation with Finam we’ve made great progress in the distribution of casual games in Russia and now the company is well-positioned for a new stage of corporate development, which will mainly focus on international expansion. Leveraging the network and experience of Almaz Capital Partners, we plan to enter new markets and extend the reach of our existing and upcoming titles,” said Alexander Lyskovsky, CEO of Alawar Entertainment.

“A key element of our investment strategy is to find innovative companies in Russia that are prepared for dynamic growth in other global markets. Alawar fits perfectly into this strategy. Under the leadership of Alexander Lyskovsky and with the efforts of his talented team, Alawar Entertainment has established a leadership position in the Russian casual gaming market and is poised to expand globally,” said Alexander Galitsky, Managing Partner at Almaz Capital Partners.

“During the time of our work with Alawar Entertainment, Finam Capital has gained precious experience in operations on the fast growing casual games market and generated attractive returns. We teamed up to implement a number of interesting projects, which resulted in Alawar Entertainment achieving a strong market presence in this segment. I am confident that the company will retain a robust pace of growth. We, in turn, plan to finance several new companies on the Russian market in the near future and expand our IT-project portfolio”, Alexei Basov, Director at Finam Capital noted.

17.11.2009 Finam Technology Fund I made a follow-on investment in Badoo.com social network.

Finam Technology Fund I, a closed-end mutual fund based in Russia, made a follow-on investment in Badoo.com social network and increased its stake to 20%. The Fund exercised a call option received in 2007 when Badoo.com raised capital for the first time.

Finam Technology Fund I first invested in World Wide Vision, the company operating Badoo.com in 2007. The Fund committed to invest $30m and received 10% equity stake and a call option for additional 10%. Badoo.com achieved impressive operating and financial results in the last two years, and broke even in Q3 2009. By that time Badoo.com had 48 mln. registered users, with more than half of them using the social network on regular basis. Finam acknowledged success of the Badoo.com by exercising its option to increase the Funds’s stake to 20%. The follow-on investment will be completed in several tranches in the next 2 years based on the performance of the Company.

Badoo.com became one of the few global social networks to break even within the first 2 years of operation. Its business model is based on the pay-as-you-go philosophy and proved robust in the highly competitive market for social networking utilities. Badoo.com customers make micropayments for various communications services offered by the site, as opposed to flat subscription fees charged by competing networks. This model was first utilized by Mamba, the leading online dating service in Russia, which was also backed by Finam in 2005.

Badoo.com delivered impressive subscriber growth in 2009. As of today, two new users register on the network every second. Three quarters of Badoo.com subscribers live in Western Europe (50%) and Latin America (25%), where social networks traditionally rank high in terms of usage and traffic. For instance, according to Comscore data, 75% of Europeans (211 mln people) frequent social networks. In South America, internet users spend average 6 hours per month communicating via social networks (50% higher than the world average). Such usage pattern is among the driving factors behind the success of Badoo.com.

“In nine months 2009, Badoo.com managed to seriously boost its user base and improved revenue generation. The company chose the right monetization strategy, first tested by Mamba in Russia and proved successful on the global scale. We believe in continued growth in 2010 and are confident exercising our option to invest in additional 10% of the company”, Managing Director of Finam Capital Sergey Oparin says.

01.10.2009 National Rating Agency improves the individual reliability rating of Finam Asset Management

National Rating Agency has raised Finam Management’s individual reliability rating to A (high reliability). The consistent corporate strategy and balanced financial policy, as well as Finam Asset Management market position, were taken in consideration when upgrading the rating.

“Significant experience in financial markets, consistent corporate strategy and balanced financial policy, effective decision-making, tight cooperation of companies within the group, appliance of cutting-edge technologies, efficient risk management have positively affected the rating. Those competitive advantages give ground for solid growth, improving market positions, acquiring new clients and diversifying business.” – states Alex Kamenev, chef analyst of National Rating Agency.

In a press release on the upgrading, National Rating Agency says, “Finam Asset Management’s financial statement shows an improvement in all its headline indicators. Negative operational environment has not affected company’s equity, assets and profit.” NRA experts state that Finam Asset Management team is capable of realizing the company’s strategy.

10.09.2009 Moneymail starts cooperation with VKontakte

The users of vkontakte.ru can now purchase special “VKontakte points” using Moneymail payment system. VKontakte.ru is the leading social network of Russian internet, and allows its users to communicate, establish connections with friends and colleagues, share photos and video and make new acquaintances.

Vkontakte points are the currency of “VKontakte.ru” and are used to increase user rating, make gifts and allow using the newly launched context advertising service. The points can be paid either via SMS or payment networks, however, using paument networks decrease the cost of points by 30%.

To purchase the points user just has to state the required amount and chose to pay via Moneymail. The amount payable will be calculated automatically.

05.09.2009 Alawar’s games to launch at MySpace

MySpace, the world’s premier lifestyle portal, and Alawar Entertainment, the leading publisher and distributor of casual games in Eastern Europe, are launching an Alawar games section on MySpace Russia (www.Myspace.com).

Founded in 2003, MySpace quickly gained popularity as the social networking site that connects people, content and culture from around the world. MySpace Russia launched in June of 2008 and has attracted millions of users, who enjoy connecting, sharing and showcase their talents and everything that is important to them. An Alawar games section will add even more possibilities for a fun and exciting MySpace experience for Russian users.

Roman Polyak, business development director at Alawar, said, “Alawar works with foreign infotainment Web portals to offer superior licensed content to millions of people worldwide. The launch of an Alawar games section on MySpace Russia is a major step forward in promoting interactive entertainment on the Russian Internet. We’re thrilled Russian users of this social networking site will be able to interact, unlock their talents and relax without having to leave their favorite site.”

“MySpace gives users the chance to interact with a global community of creative and like-minded people, allowing them to express themselves and share their interests.” said Alexander Turkot, CEO of MySpace Russia. “The Alawar games section on MySpace Russia will be a logical extension in our quest to create this community of outstanding and talented people that can take advantage of the opportunities for self-fulfillment and entertainment we provide.”

The Alawar section on MySpace Russia is available from February, 5 and will offer a selection of more than 300 casual games from the company’s portfolio.

22.08.2009 Mamba announces 1H 2009 results

Begun together with Rambler Group announce the financial results of context advertising sales for the first half of 2009. Consolidated revenue of Rambler holding, generated by context advertising, was 516m rubles for the period, and Begun corresponds for the bulk of it. The majority of context advertising revenue was generated by automotive, medical and industrial advertisers. Over 30 000 clients used the services of Begun for the period.

Over 1bn of ads is shown in Begun’s network daily. Accredited advertising agencies remain the most important channel of sales. Their number increased by 30% in first half of 2009, reaching 1600. Begun’s dealers are available in 15 countries of the world, including UK, Germany, China and South African Republic.

Alexey Basov, CEO of Begun: “Begun’s strategy is to provide companies of various sectors with efficient tools to acquire new clients. Nowadays, more and more enterprises either start using context advertizing of broaden the scope of its appliances. This results in the growth of intensity of the usage of Begun: the number of placed ads in the first half of 2009 increased fivefold compared to 2008.”

Olga Turisheva, CEO of Rambler Media: “Begun remains our key asset and we continue our work on integrating our services with Begun’s advertising network, on increasing the efficiency of advertising, on attracting new customers”

Media Room

In 2009 Mamba focused on the development of alternative payment methods. As a result, the revenue generated by alternative payment methods for 1H 2009 amounted to 72m rubles versus 80m for the whole year 2008. (80% growth y-o-y). Revenue from SMS payments (208m rubles) constituted 71% of total revenue for the first 6 months of 2009.

This financial period was profitable for all of 19000 Mamba’s partners: commission payments for 1H 2009 grew 51% y-o-y. Advertising revenue remained in line with the previous year and constituted 5% of company’s revenues. In its advertising strategy, Mamba focused on increasing the effectiveness of each banner shown rather than just on increasing the number of views and decreasing costs. In 2009, Mamba featured the sale of end-customers, and diversified the range of alternative marketing tools. Mamba’s CEO, Andrey Bronetskiy, comments on this: “We were the first company in the market to implement personalized targeting of ads. E.g., the sample banner of a sports goods store looks like that: “Hello, Olga, we are happy to offer you sport shoes at a 70% discount near subway station Taganskaya”, and such banner will only be shown to a girl named Olga, who lives near subway station Taganskaya in Moscow.”

The beginning of the year was rich with negative forecasts regarding internet companies. But none of those proved true regarding Mamba, mainly due to Mamba’s strategy of product diversification. In 2008 Mamba created “Mon Amour”, an agency for search of serious relationships, this year “Poputchiki”, a service for search of travel companions, was launched. Andrey Bronetskiy sums up: “The ongoing crisis will show if the company’s strategy is right, however, we are optimistic about the future”