Acquisition gives St Ives mobile-content firm global reach

A ST Ives company that is one of the world’s leaders in mobile phone entertainment content has been sold to a US mobile music and content specialist.

Although FoneStarz Media Group Limited, based at Clare Hall, off Harrison Way in St Ives, already works with many of the world’s largest telecom and media brands, the acquisition will give it access to new markets in North America and Asia.

Founder and chief executive, former journalist Dave Moreau, will become chief operating officer of the new company following the agreed takeover by Livewire Mobile Inc, which has headquarters in Massachusetts.

“We spent some time looking for a partner that offered a strategic fit in terms of product roadmap and territorial expansion,” Mr Moreau said.

“Scale is vital in this fast-moving, global market and we believe Livewire Mobile and FoneStarz together will be able to provide a preeminent digital solution for mobile network operators, handset manufacturers and media businesses.”

The 35 people employed by FonStarz will work with almost twice as many in the US arm, although little will obviously change in the short-term in St Ives, Mr Moreau told The Hunts Post, “except that, although I shall be staying locally-based, I shall be taking global responsibility for the operating side of the business, so I shall be racking up the Air Miles”.

Already, FoneStarz is one of the biggest digital retailers of music in New Zealand.

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FoneStarz services are currently deployed with premier operators including Vodafone, Hutchison 3 and O2 in countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, New Zealand, South Africa and Egypt.

It has content aggregation agreements with handset manufacturers including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and LG, and content licences with more than 140 media companies, including Disney, Playboy, Turner, American Greetings and Manchester United.

“When we started doing this [Mr Moreau founded the company in 2002] we were working for companies in the UK such as Vodafone. Now we are increasingly being asked to work on a global basis,” he said.

“This move means the seven software developers we had here are now 47, so we can respond to the market much better.

“Overall, it means the company can grow.”