Russian investor Finam has put $30m into UK-based social network Badoo for a 10% stake. The money is to build the service in Russia, where social networking market has reached around 10 million users in January.
Badoo’s social networking site with photo and video sharing has 12.7 million registered accounts, mostly in Latin America and Continental Europe. Badoo was launched from London in November 2006 and was the number two fastest rising search term on the Google Zeitgeist list for 2007. It will go up against several other russian sites including Odnoklassniki.ru, Vkontakte.ru and Moikrug.ru which have all attracted several million users each. And now the Russian version of MySpace, which launched only last week.
Badoo’s main pitch is that it carries no advertising, avoiding the kinds of issues Facebook had with Beacon. Instead, Badoo derives its main revenue from offering users the chance to pay to be popular. “We wanted to be advertising free in order to have a ‘clean’ site so our users weren’t subject to adverts which we know can be a turnoff,” said Neil Bryant, the managing director of Badoo told The Guardian last year.
They say 20% of Badoo’s 12.5 million users access the function once a month, or $1 or €1, in a blend of Digg and a Reuters ticker. Right now the £1 charge is waved in the UK, where the site has – incredibly – never formally launched. But Badoo is aiming to get traction by using celebrities with its UK launch next month.
According to Quintura, in 2005, Finam bought-out a 68.5% stake in Mamba, a leading online dating community in Russia with over 9 million registered accounts, which is rumored to share the same technical founders with Badoo.