Likiwi is pretty much Skype – but on Facebook. This morning, the Paris-based startup announced that they are launching a new texting service, enabling Facebook’s 500 million users to send texts directly from Mark Zuckerberg’s platform.
Launched back in October 2009 by 20-something-year-olds Aurélie Perruche and Yvan Morales, Likiwi’s Facebook application lets users call their Facebook friends for free. Using a business model that is similar to the one used by French startup Beezik for downloading music, Likiwi requires that users watch a 10-15 second ad before each call made via Facebook. For every call made on Likiwi, users collect a number of points for each call (essentially virtual money), which can be used towards calling landlines or sending text messages (each SMS is 30 points). And of course, Likiwi users can also purchase points with real money too.
The startup is closing in on 10,000 users, with 1,000-2,000 new users per month over the last few months. An English application is currently available in some 166 countries. If you’d like to test the service, the startup is offering the first 111 people a free SMS to see what it’s all about.