This weekend, fun avatar service Gizmoz dominated the tech blogosphere for a while because they raised 6.5 million dollars Series B financing from a round led by a subsidiary of the largest cell phone operator in Japan, DoCoMo Capital. Moreover, they announced new compatibility with AIM. TechCrunch, Mashable and VentureBeat were all eager to cover the news from this Israel-based company.
I thought this story could use a little background, so I’ve interviewed Gizmoz’s Founder and CEO Eyal Gever. First question that comes to mind: is Gizmoz going to focus on Japan and other Asian countries now?
Gever: “We think the US and European market are also very interesting to approach. Asia is an extremely advance market compared to the US and Europe in terms of Mobile entertainment and we therefore believe that Asia has a huge addressable market for our services. So focusing on the Asian market makes a lot of sense as they have clear and established business models of advertising and digital goods. Also, self-expression and consumption of digital goods have been extremely popular in Asia both on the web and mobile.”
“Specifically, Japan represents a large and strategic market for Gizmoz. The country is a world-leader in mobile adoption and Japanese consumers are eager to embrace innovative content and offerings. DoCoMo is a subsidiary of Japan’s largest cellular phone service operator, and NGI capital is a leading VC firm in Japan. As strategic partners, they can help us navigate and launch our services in the Asian social entertainment market in ways that would be much more difficult to do by ourselves. Details of our expansion plans remain confidential at this time, but in short we see an opportunity partnering both with media companies, mobile content aggregators as well as mobile operators.”
Gever also announced that they’ll soon introduce a full set of mobile services. That’s of course inevitable, since social networks and self-expression are gradually shifting to mobile devices. Especially in Asia. Gever: “Gizmoz will enable both users and businesses to create life-like animated 3D talking characters and deliver them to any mobile device that supports video.”
According to Gever, Gizmoz Mobile functionality will include:
- Web to Mobile Messaging: Allowing users to create Gizmoz and send them to Mobile devices via MMS or Video WAP push.
- Mobile to Mobile: Gizmoz provides operators with on deck mobile WAP application that allow users to create talking Gizmoz on their mobile device and send them to other devices.
- Consumer Applications include: Animated talking greetings, Be-a-Star: which lets consumers embed Gizmoz characters into movie clips, Video Tones, Wallpapers and Screen Savers
Gever promised us to keep us briefed as they get closer to the launch. It will be exciting times, as it seems like the Asian mobile market is the perfect destination for Gizmoz.