Mobile rewards platform Jana is among those who benefited from Zynga’s Boston office shutdown

Mobile rewards platform Jana is among those who benefited from Zynga’s Boston office shutdown

It’s been about two months since Zynga closed the doors of its Boston office as a part of the company’s worldwide austerity measures. It appears now that if someone has benefited from this, it is local startups like Jana, which has even issued an announcement about hiring Zynga’s former Director of Engineering and CTO from its Boston studio.

Joined Jana’s team as VP of Engineering and Chief Architect, Dan O’Brien and Craig Lancaster are among those 60% of ex-Zynga employees in Boston who have found a new job, according to a recent report of

In their new roles, O’Brien and Lancaster are expected to apply their experience in creating consumer engagement products to Jana’s mobile rewards platform.

The company the two ex-Zynga employees have joined is pretty interesting by itself. Based out of Boston, Jana works in emerging markets of Latin and South Americas and Asia-Pacific, offering mobile airtime to customers in exchange for certain actions, from completing a survey to buying a particular item in a store.

Jana claims to be the world’s largest payment platform with a theoretical reach of 3.48 billion people, though it doesn’t operate with real money, but with airtime of 237 mobile carriers in 102 countries. The idea here is that Jana buys airtime from providers, and then offers it to the carrier’s customers for free, in exchange for doing something what Jana’s clients need.

How it works

Jana’s CEO Nathan Eagle explained that the company has developed a platform that “integrates relatively seamlessly with mobile carriers’ back-end billing system” and allows Jana to send money to particular prepaid subscribers. Eagle also mentioned that some of carriers may even do the first step now, offering their airtime and networks to Jana.

As for the business model,  Eagle told TNW that the company is getting paid differently for different campaign types. When doing market research (i.e. offering people airtime for completing a survey), Jana gets paid as a market research company, per completed survey. With advertisement campaigns it’s different and may involve payments per person reached or per item bought.

With the two new hires, Eagle plans to consistently develop the company, though is not really interested in aggressive geographic expansion, focusing on up to 15 core countries that are mostly targeted by Jana’s clients.

As the company’s technology works only for prepaid subscribers, there’s no plans for entering developed markets either. Also, Jana perceives its consumer data on emerging markets as a core asset, while in developed countries this data is available through other channels, which would leave the company without an important competing advantage, Eagle said.

Image credit: AFP / Getty Images.

Read next: Event discovery startup Vamos launches Android app, highlights visuals