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Telecom takes stake in mobile app developer

Telecom has taken a 20% stake in mobile app developer App La Carte, with an option to lift its holding to 40%.

The investment was made through Telecom Digital Ventures, the Rod Snodgrass-headed unit on a mission to create new lines of business (its other initiatives have included putting $5 million into Sir Ray Avery's home monitoring startup Vigil; Telecom's pending Netflix-style service Lightbox; budget mobile brand Skinny, stripped back ISP brand Big Pipe and Telecom's phonebox wi-fi network).

Telecom refused to disclose the size of the investment, but said it was modest.

App La Carte is based on Auckland's North Shore and employs 20 staff.

It's 18 months old and claims 150 customers including burger chain Wendys, which used App La Carte to create a loyalty app.

App La Carte servcies start from $60 per month, which includes the cost of keeping the app up to date on the app store or Google Play, the company says. 

Telecom, which already offers mobile development services for corporate customers through Gen-i, says the acquisition will help its customers, and help its own product pipeline.

App La Carte's other shareholders are its managers, plus chairman John Holt — the one time ANZ local CEO turned entrepreneur and business advisor, perhaps best known as cofounder of the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

Holt says App La Carte allows customers to choose from pre-made components to keep costs down.

“This is a software-as-a-service platform. Customers, who range from large corporations, plenty of SMEs and even non-profit and public sector organisations, can log in and create a unique looking mobile app without needing to code.”

App La Carte’s platform has a range of easily selectable features and functions for each app that are immediately useful for generating more revenue for the user through increased customer engagement (loyalty), sales (push notifications and special deal advertising) and ease of use (payments, shopping carts), customer account management, location services, barcode scanning and much more," he says.

“App La Carte allows customers to register their app in both Apple and Android stores and have them verified in a much quicker timeframe. This is because App La Carte’s apps go through a standardised vetting process and meet the requirements of both app stores.”

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
3

Seems very odd doesn't it? Barely worth the trouble?

Telecom's already in services with Gen-i of, course. And via its partnership with SAP, it's is already in mobile apps and bekspoke mobile app development for corporates. In that context, it makes sense to extend its mobile reach.

I'm still not 100% sold on the merits of a telco being in IT services, which involves the messy complication of competing with potential partners in other areas (Telstra sold Kaz, it's equivalent to Gen-i).

But I do like the Telecom Digital Ventures setup. This skunkworks is throwing a lot of mud at the wall, and it'll be intriguing to see what sticks.

Well done Rohan!