Spreading the message

Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO of Synchronica, explains the rationale behind his firm's most recent acquisition

Tags: SynchronicaUnited Kingdom
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Spreading the message Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO, Synchronica, is optimistic that his company's most recent acquisition will accelerate the firm's growth.
By  Roger Field Published  May 12, 2010

After acquiring the IMPS instant messaging business of Colibria last month, mobile email specialist Synchronica looks set to gain further traction in the Middle East and Africa.

The UK-based firm's CEO, Carsten Brinkschulte, tells CommsMEA about the recent deal and the company's plans for 2010.

CommsMEA: What was the rationale behind the acquisition? Was it mainly to acquire Colibria's IM technology, or for its existing contracts?

Brinkschulte: The technology is one aspect, the employees we are taking over is another and then of course the customers and market access. We have acquired 13 existing live operator deployments, including two multi-national framework agreements with tier-one mobile operators including two in the Middle East and Africa.

All three elements are equally important but of course from a pure commercial perspective the customer contracts are extremely valuable and the time to market is key. Having a good product is one thing but then winning customers and launching services is another.

Our goal is really to be a widely used infrastructure supplier and to gain market share because we are aiming for market leadership in next generation mobile messaging, particularly in emerging markets, in that geographic segment.

Winning carrier contracts, we know from our own experience can easily take 12 months from the point of first contact, that is normal in our industry. Taking over a 13-carrier contract in one go massively accelerates that process.

With live installations that are generating revenue it will also help the commercial success of our company. It is really about accelerating market entry, buying market share, but also of course buying the proven scalable carrier-grade industry standard-based instant messaging software that Colibria has developed over several years is very valuable too. The people who created the technology and are supporting it will be working for Synchronica, so we think we can ensure a smooth transition and continue the development of this product.

There is a data centre in Miami that we will take over and particularly Latin America is one of the most important regions for this. Colibria has a lot of installations in Latin America and they are hosted out of Miami.

CommsMEA: Is there any overlap between Colibria's IM software and the IM capability that Synchronica has developed?

Brinkschulte: There is overlap between what we have introduced as part of Mobile Gateway 5, where we have also introduced instant messaging based on the IMPS industry standard, and Colibria's service which is also based on the IMPS standard. We will standardise on one, and as Colibria already has 13 installations that we need to continue to support, we will most likely settle on that and integrate it into Mobile Gateway.

Some of the features in our IM server are actually better than what Colibria has, so we will take what we have done and merge it with Colibria and then put it with Mobile Gateway over time.

The acquisition also represents a consolidation of suppliers in this field. Before we were competing with Colibria for IM and now we are not. There is a consolidation in this space and we are happy to be on the consolidator side.

CommsMEA: How do you see the potential of Africa for Synchronica, and will the recent deal between Zain and Bhari Airtel affect the company?

Brinkschulte: We clearly have a relationship with MTN and we also have a relationship with Zain, so the acquisition of Zain's African assets by Bharti Airtel will affect Synchronica, because Africa is one of our key markets. The acquisition is just completing at the moment so it is too early to say what the impact on us or any other value added service providers might be. Zain is still retaining some of the African assets, Morocco and Sudan.

We will have to speak to Bharti to get in touch with those subsidiaries going forward. It is an interesting move, for Bharti obviously very good. For Zain, I am not sure it was the right thing to do but the shareholders obviously thought it was.

CommsMEA: Why is Synchronica focusing exclusively on emerging markets? Do you see value in developed markets?

Brinkschulte: The majority of mobile users worldwide are living in emerging markets, about 82% of mobile users live in emerging economies. We do have customers in the heart of Europe, for example, E-Plus in Germany, Sunrise in Switzerland, and Base in Belgium, but I think the potential for mass market mobile data services is higher in regions where the PC penetration is low, and that is typically the emerging markets of Africa and Asia.

We are not saying we don't want to do deals in Europe, but you have to focus on something in order to be very successful, otherwise you lose focus if you try to play in everybody's garden. Africa was probably the fastest growing region in terms of customer acquisitions for Synchronica last year.

We added five new mobile operators in Africa and in total we added 13 mobile operators to our customer base in 2009. The Middle East and Asia has also been expanding and we also have Latin America where we have acquired new customers, but Africa is key to us.

3233 days ago

there is some rumour oin the market that Sunchonica is looking at Artilium (also listed at teh AIM). Anybody that has more info on this ?

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