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Uri Raz Sells $215 Million Stake In Tango To Alibaba – Valuing The Company At $1.1 Billion

Raz, CEO and co-founder of the mobile messaging service will be the recipient of the  largest investment in a US company that the Chinese online marketing super power has made to date.

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Uri Raz, CEO and co-founder of mobile messaging service Tango, announced that the messaging and free-calling app has been the recent recipient of a total of $280 million in venture capital, with Alibaba responsible for pumping in $215 million of that.

The the latest funding round places a value on Tango of around $1.1 billion industry sources calculating that that Alibaba’s stake in the company will vary between 20 and 25% of the equity.

Tango was established four years ago by Uri Raz  and his partner Eric Setton, who is the company’s chief technology officer. Tango currently has a subscriber base of around 200 million situated around the world, 70 million of whom are active on a monthly basis, according to the company.

The Tango application not only provides text chats but also allows videos to be transferred in real-time,  as well as offering a wide choice of games and music.

Discussing the advantages of Tango,  Eric Setton  stated that a whole new level of connection and sharing of experiences is available through messaging apps, which  that fundamentally affects the way content gets distributed on mobile.  “This round of funding will enable us to continue to innovate, hire the best talent, aggressively expand our content partnerships, and build a world-class platform as we go after what is truly a big opportunity.” Setton wound up.

Confirming the investment a spokesperson for the Alibaba Group stated that the reason for investing in Tango has has been that they have exhibited tremendous growth as a result of their  unique approach to combining free communications as well as social media and content.

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“The management team at Alibaba have been overwhelmed by the vision and quality of the team at Tango and believe they have a disruptive way of looking at the mobile and messaging opportunity.” Summed up the spokesperson.

Tango is currently available in 14 languages and has a subscriber list covering more than 200 countries, although the two markets in which they are strongest are the US and the Middle East, with both of them making up around a quarter each of the apps total subscribers list.

Alibaba’s interest in Tango is hardly surprising considering that they have become among the key players among a number of rival  messaging services which are gradually increase their services so they can challenge the larger social media platforms in particular Facebook and their latest acquisition  WhatsApp.

According to industry rumors Tango’s top management team of Uri Raz and Eric Setton have been in lengthy discussions with Alibaba since late 2013, well in advance of the two major Rakuten and Facebook deals, with  the initial introductions reportedly having been made by Jerry Yang, not only one of Tango’s early investors, through the investment fund which he runs, Palo Alto-based AME Cloud Ventures but also a co-founder of Yahoo, who also own around a quarter of Alibaba.

To make things even cozier Jerry Yang is also a close personal friend of Jack Ma.

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Final details of the proposed investment were probably  tied up when Raz and Setton  flew to  China to meet with  Jack Ma  Alibaba’s founder several weeks ago

Rumors are rife in the market that Alibaba only advanced stages of planning an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, which market  analysts estimate could be the largest in the history of high-tech, with the company estimated to have a current market value express excess of $200 billion.

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Uri  Raz graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the Technion Institute in Haifa, Israel.  Raz is regarded as one of the Internet’s leading visionaries, and is responsible for the founding of a number of highly successful technology companies, most of them in Israel.

Uri’s  initial online venture,  Shore Technologies was acquired by Israeli-based Ness Technologies, after which he went on to serve as CEO for Golden Screens, Interactive Technologies, before founding Appstream, which was acquired by Symantec in 2006. Later Raz went on to establish Dyyno, who specialize in video streaming before establishing San Francisco-based Tango with Eric Setton.

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