These days, €40m ($51m) is a big funding round for any company whose revenues are based entirely on advertising. Blyk provides free mobile calls to 200,000 British 16- to 24-year-olds in exchange for them receiving advertising messages, a membership it reached much faster than expected. Its response rates of 25 per cent have attracted 180 advertisers – but is even that enough to maintain revenues, with advertisers pulling budgets from even the most tried and tested of media?
Blyk’s fundraising – its third, coming from existing investors, who include Goldman Sachs and Sofinnova Partners – was accompanied by a “new media partnership strategy”. Blyk currently operates using a mobile virtual network, airtime bought wholesale from Orange in the UK and Vodafone in the Netherlands. But for further international expansion, Blyk’s co-founder and chief executive (and a former Nokia president), Pekka Ala-Pietila, says: “We don’t need to work purely on our own.”