A Chinese Mobile Startup With Global Reach: Android-Based Go Launcher Touches 80M Monthly Actives

A Chinese Mobile Startup With Global Reach: Android-Based Go Launcher Touches 80M Monthly Actives

KIM-MAI CUTLER

posted yesterday

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As I’ve written about before, while the Chinese startup scene is sometimes criticized for producing copycats of Western businesses,there are emerging entrepreneurs building software products with global appeal. One of the startups with the largest reach is Go Launcher, a Beijing-based company making an Android homescreen that boasts 80 million monthly actives and three Android products with more than 50 million installs each.The company has taken three rounds of funding in the “tens of millions” from investors like IDG and WI Harper, although the company declined to specify how much it’s taken.

Xiangdong Zhang, one of the co-founders, help set up the company about a decade ago when it was a portal for the mobile web — a super basic WAP portal.

“It was like Yahoo for the mobile Internet,” explains Shenxin Xu, a spokesperson for the company. He said that back in the mid-2000s, Go Launcher’s 3G portal product used to consume as much as one-third of the bandwidth for mobile Internet usage in China.

But they later switched to an Android-centric strategy about three years ago, just as the platform was poised to take off in mainland China. It was obvious that a WAP strategy wasn’t going to be successful in the long run.

So they launched a series of products including Go Launcher Ex, which lets customize their home screen with more than 10,000 themes and Go Locker, which lets Android users open apps directly from the lock screen or add more security protection with extra pins, patterns and gestures.

Now Go Launcher’s biggest audiences, in fact, aren’t in the mainland. They’re in the U.S. followed by South Korea, another major Android market thanks to Samsung’s dominance there.

“It was a global product from the beginning and then it moved back into to China,” Zhang said. Over the last two years, Android has far surpassed iOS as the dominant smartphone platform in mainland China, thanks to a wave of low-end handsets.

Go Launcher, which now has about 800 employees, earns revenue mainly through advertising, a premium paid version of the product and providing distribution for third-party apps.

Half of the revenue comes through the largest couple of Go Launcher apps. They sell themes for Go Launcher at $2 each, then a premium version of the app for $16.

They also earn revenue for distributing third-party apps through a small app store widget in the launcher, plus an exchange with Getjar, the Accel-backed independent app store. There are also ads directly in the product from Google’s mobile advertising network.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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