It’s only last month when Internet investment group Digital Sky Technologies (DST) took control over the leading Russian email service and portal Mail.ru. Its shareholders including Internet media group Naspers of South Africa then decided to postpone Mail.ru‘s IPO until 2009 to increase value of the company. Now, Mail.ru started implementing its plans by consolidating its presence in online dating market.
Mail.ru acquired a 30% stake in its online dating partner Mamba for $15 million from investment group Finam, reported RBC Daily. Mamba has 10 million registered users of which 60 thousand are online at any time and 1.5 – 2 million on a daily basis. The company reported revenues of $9.2 million in the first half of 2008, up 68% from the first half of 2007. Finam, a Moscow-based investment and financial services group acquired a controlling stake in Mamba in October 2005.
Mamba provides its online dating platform to the other Russian web portal Rambler, which provides more than 25% of Mamba‘s usage. Rambler may think of this deal as a potential conflict since Mail.ru, one of its main competitors will now own a significant stake in the same service provider.
The Russian online dating market was valued at $21 million in 2007. Mamba and Loveplanet together hold 90% of the market. The major difference between them is that Mamba counts registered users from its partner websites while Loveplanet develops itself as a destination site. The online dating sites usually require registration but free to use. The sites generate revenues from premium services such advanced search options, voice messages, top profile locations, etc.
The deal marks another successful exit in 2008 for Mamba‘s investor Finam, which recently sold its stakes in contextual advertising provider Begun and computer game publisher BUKA.