NETWORKING SERVICE

Path Sees Indonesia as Key Market

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Path, the social networking and photo sharing service, will continue expanding its reach in Indonesia, which has so far become its number one market.

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Path founder and CEO Dave Morin said the company had been working out the details to expand the market with Bakrie Global Group, which recently invested in the networking service.

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“Indonesia and the US are our top two markets,” Morin told The Jakarta Post via Skype on Wednesday.

He said that Path had over 4 million users in Indonesia and more than 20 million globally. “But Indonesia is the breakout star for us in terms of market, so we are spending more time there than anywhere else,” he said.

Morin, who has visited Indonesia twice in the past six months, added that roughly 70 percent of users in Indonesia accessed Path via Android devices, the remaining through iOS.

Path has also launched its application for Windows, but has no plans yet for BlackBerry.

“We believe that right now, Android and iOS are the premiere platforms in the world, and that is what we are focused on,” he said.

He further said that Path would continue collaborating with other mobile phone operators, besides Bakrie owned PT Bakrie Telecom, in enabling more Indonesia users to buy premium accounts and virtual gifts – Path’s monetization method.

Path has partnerships with the top three GSM operators, PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), PT XL Axiata, and PT Indosat. However, Bakrie Telecom, a CDMA operator, has suffered from recurring losses amid a dwindling CDMA market.

“That [partnership] is one of the key initiatives we are undertaking right now,” he said.

He added that the high traction Path had gained in Indonesia was not unexpected, after seeing the elevated usage rates of other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter in the country.

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“We know how passionate Indonesian users are of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, so we felt that we had a chance to be successful there,” the former Apple and Facebook employee said.

He added that the high use of the music and location sharing feature among Indonesian users stood out, given that globally, the most popular Path features were posting thoughts and photos.

“Music is a big part of Indonesian culture, and we think that music sharing is also our differentiator. We have heard people say that they can share music on Path, unlike on Facebook,” he said.

News broke out in early January that Bakrie Global Group invested in Path. This stirred mixed reactions with many Indonesians considering quitting the networking service due to the Bakrie Group’s presumed responsibility for the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java, which destroyed livelihoods and the surrounding environment.

Commenting on Bakrie’s entry, Morin revealed that Bakrie Global Group was actually a minor shareholder with a “less than 1 percent” stake in the networking service.

“Our major investors are Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures,” Morin said.

Bakrie Global Group was part of a consortium of investors, which included existing investors such as Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures and First Round Capital, that had injected US$25 million into Path.

Morin said that investors traditionally reserved “no right over decision making or crucial information”, adding that investors were there to “receive profit on the growth of the company”.

“So, that is all that’s involved in the exchange.” (Mariel Grazella, The Jakarta Post)

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