Mobile-Messaging Service Mblox Acquires CardBoardFish and Zoove

July 17, 2014

Mobile-messaging company mBlox Inc ., which recently announced the closing of a $43.5 million debt round from investors, has acquired two other privately held companies in a bid to add new features to its service and expand into new markets, VentureWire has learned.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based mBlox said it has acquired NextGen Mobile Ltd., a U.K.-based company that goes by the name CardBoardFish, in an all-cash deal. The company was funded by its founders, mBlox Chief Executive Tom Cotney said.

MBlox also acquired Zoove Corp., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company that developed the “StarStar” service for consumers and wireless carriers. Mr. Cotney said the acquisition was a cash-and-stock deal, and that Zoove’s investors now hold stakes in mBlox.

Detailed terms of the acquisitions weren’t disclosed.

Executives from both companies, including Allister Collins and Ben Fitter of CardBoardFish and Zoove founders Joe Gillespie and Tim Jemison , will serve as advisers and consultants at mBlox, the company said.

MBlox enables businesses to interact with consumers via text and other messaging tools. The company aggregates information from some 100 wireless carriers in different countries, who give the company access to consumers. Serving as the intermediary between businesses and mobile operators, MBlox manages the delivery of billing of mobile content and services.

Founded in 1999, mBlox has raised just under $100 million from Avanti Capital , Norwest Venture Partners , Saints Capital, Scale Venture Partners , Stratim Capital , Trident Capital and other investors, VentureWire records show.

Mr. Cotney said the company’s revenue is expected to top $100 million this year, and to reach double that amount next year.

Acquiring CardBoardFish will give mBlox “ultramodern architecture” for delivering messages, as well as a new client portal, he said. Additionally, as CardBoardFish functions as a mobile-service provider in a dozen overseas markets, the acquisition will give mBlox new reach into Latin America, North Africa, parts of Asia and other areas, he said.

Zoove , which provides branded phone numbers, brings to mBlox new capabilities such as voice and MMS messaging, Mr. Cotney said. Zoove, which has raised several venture funding rounds, according to VentureWire records, operates the StarStar Registry in the U.S.

The StarStar dial code allows businesses and organizations to offer consumers information and access to various services via a phone number that begins with the “star” key on the keyboard.

Acquiring Zoove means that mBlox customers will now have a “migration path” to upgraded mBlox service, Mr. Cotney said.

Zoove last year raised a $15 million Series E round from Rogers Venture Partners , Panorama Capital, Worldview Technology Partners and Highland Capital Partners , VentureWire records show. The company has also been backed by Verizon Corp., Mr. Cotney said.

The investors in Zoove now hold a combined stake in mBlox that is in the “single-digit” percentage, Mr. Cotney said.

With enhanced services and a longer reach, mBlox expects the next year to be one of fast growth and dramatically stepped-up revenue, the CEO said.

Write to Timothy Hay at

Timothy Hay,
July 14, 2014,
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