The Real Social Network mig33, An Interview with Chris Chandler
32 yrs in telecom, teaching, blog & grant writing, biz development, marketing, & PR. Favorite moments in life involve time w/ family & friends, networking, IP communications industry verticals & horizontals, running, traveling, foreign languages
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2. "One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain." By Thomas Sowell
What a pleasure to meet Chris Chandler, VP of Business Development at mig33 during Mobile Monday Singapore meetup in the popular Rupee Room! Mr. Chandler is also the founder of MoMo Singapore. (Pictured are Chris Chandler of mig33 and also Martti Ranin, President of Mobile Monday Services.)
The first mig33 team member I met was Mohit Gundecha, the head of India operations and director of business development during a Jeff Pulver Breakfast in March 2008. I knew at that time that mig33 was on its way to being a major player in the social networking space after a discussion with Mohit about how fast the newbie was growing in popularity ... in the East. In fact, it is KING in much of Asia. Read on and please watch and listen to the video.
(Many apologies for the electronica music loudly in the background even though Chris and I have on shirt mics.)
So what can you do with mig33? Chris says that most people think that mig33 might be something like Facebook, but it's different. Facebook is a place where someone tells who they are in real life and then connect with people they know.
In Asia, mig33 users connect in fun and unusual ways. People coming online for the first time are really excited about getting to know new people. The service is primarily based around "chat." Users start in a chat room and from there, they find individuals they want to continue conversation with via mig33 voice over Internet, SMS or social games.
The social games feature is something that mig33 has launched recently. The mig33 users also exchange virtual goods with each other that they pay for.
How do they pay? Is it with special tap cards, mobile wallet, via contact list? How does this work?
Doing business in emerging markets can be difficult. Traditional advertising just won't work, for example, in Nepal.
Chandler explains that mig33 has created a network of merchants. People send money via bank transfers and buy credits in volume and then, turn around and become a merchant on the ground in their country. Users go to the merchants to pay cash (whether in rupees, yen, ringgits, etc.) for mig33 credits. This is like a virtual prepaid card.
The merchants are the best salespeople to explain and demonstrate the value of using mig33 in the local language. They are trusted.
Around April 13, 2011, mig33 proved to be a hot property when it completed an agreement with GREE (which is Japan's number one social network and a mobile social gaming juggernaut). This included GREE's financial investment in mig33. Basically, mig33 adopted the GREE platform for smartphones, so that technical specifications of GREE's Japanese platform and mig33's platform can mutually be ported back and forth.
The mig33 adopted GREE's API. Third party developers are now able to develop mobile applications.
Chris and I share mutually happy laughter over the excitement that all this is generating at this point. He's a great guy to talk with, and the audience listening in around us before MoMo was increasing by the minute.
Combined, the two service over 70 million in countries where mobile web is far larger than the non-mobile traditional web. As Serkan Toto shared in an article on TechCrunch, "Roughly speaking, it's like Facebook and Zynga rolled into one."
Keep in mind that GREE also had completed an agreement with China's Tencent (the largest social network in that country, and the fact that GREE International is a US-based company. (Visit http://gree-corp.com/ for more information.)
I asked Chris Chandler to tell us a little about himself. He has been living in Singapore for eight years, with this interview dating June 20, 2011. Before mig33, he was working with Microsoft, Yahoo! and even Earthlink when it was all about dialup Internet. He joined mig33 in January 2011.
"My professional experience has been in marketing, product management, quality assurance, customer care, engineering ... I've done it all," he notes with that perpetually happy Chris Chandler smile.
Unusual trivia: most mig33 users take advantage of the services via regular feature java-enabled phones (not necessarily smartphones) like Nokias.
So ... got an idea, app or service that can leverage or complement mig33/GREE? Visit http://www.mig33.com now.
The Mobile Monday Singapore party kicked in right after my interview with Chris Chandler where mobile celebrities, early adopters, and application developers mixed easily such as mig33's Chris Chandler, Singtel's Chong Lee Fong, DIDX's Rehan Allahwala, Korvac Holdings' Jos Birken and a few hundred others packed like runners waiting for the San Fermin Running of the Bulls, exciting! In this case, we were at the Rupee Room in Singapore. Mobile Monday was founded by Jari Tammisto who I interviewed in 2010 on DIDX podcasts (also listed on iTunes).