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Nokia skeptical of mobile-startups but hand-shake with big Corps

“The Business-Simplified” print version from Hindustan Times – Mint, carried an article today of Nokia’s skeptical view towards investments in mobile startups. BlueRun Ventures is a Menlo Park (CA, USA) and is backed by one of the world’s largest handset maker – Nokia. Being backed up Nokia, the viable notion is that they will be more towards mobile and mobile startups but the irony is they are indeed backing away from the mobile sector, specially from startups that targets the mobile value-added services (VAS).

Senior Investment director of Bluerun Ventures (erstwhile Nokia Venture Partners), Sasha Mirchandani says,

We have consciously decided to stay out of the space, as the current revenue share arrangement (between operators and VAS players) does not offer a viable business proposition.

This is in contrast to the interest shown by most venture capital firms investing in this market, which has resulted in mobile VAS being one of the most heavily funded start-up segments in the last two years. VCs like Canaan Partners (New Delhi) and Norwest Venture Partners (Mumbai) are investing heavily in this sector, citing it as a key focus area for 2008.

Nonetheless, it may be noted that this investment decision is specific to India. In other markets, especially in the US, the firm has benefited from its long-standing telecom experience. In the India front, BlueRun will wait until, “VAS gets more prominence in the boardroom of operators and top management focuses more on data than voice.”

BlueRun also plans to step up investments in India this year. So far, it has invested in five companies, including Bangalore-based Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd and Pune-based Nevis Networks, Inc. In the last eight months, it has also expanded its investment team in India. Along with partners Vineet Buch and Sujit Banerjee, who operate between India and the US, Mirchandani will be based in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, in another news, Techcrunch reports of a likely alliance between Nokia and Facebook claiming that Facebook and Nokia may be close to a deal which sees Facebook offered on Nokia phones as a default and in return Nokia may take a stake in Facebook. Nokia being the largest cell phone provider worldwide the deal would spread Facebook into new markets and can become extremely phenomenal on the mobile front.

However, there are no concrete sources or confirmations other than non-confirmed quotes like – “There is talk of a partnership in the works … it’s safe to say we’re testing the waters and things still have to be worked out.”

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