Mobli, a shameless Instagram ripoff, was just supposed to be another hobby for bored famous people. With inexplicable investors like Serena Williams, Tobey Maguire, Lance Armstrong, and Leo DiCaprio, the app was one more harmless vanity project among many. But then the second richest man in the world came along.
Carlos Slim, accustomed to activities like giving the New York Times risky loans and monopolizing the Mexican telecom market, can't help but make Mobli creepy. Forbes reports that Slim isn't just chipping in a chunk of Mobli's latest, $60 million funding round—he's bringing his slimy business expertise, too:
Slim's carrier announced it was leading a $60 million funding round into Mobli on Wednesday. That same day America Movil downloaded Mobli onto tens of thousands of its smartphones in Latin America, into a pre-installed folder labeled "Ideas." It then notified customers with an SMS and invited them to register with the photo sharing app. Till then, the carrier's Ideas folder had only contained a few proprietary apps like a cloud-based service, Hogeg said. America Movil could not be reached for comment.
That's brilliant: use the giant cellular carrier you control to bolster the puny startup you're backing. Forget Leo's punim: there's no one in Hollywood who can force millions of people to download your app at will. That's an investor worth bringing on—because really, how else are you going to compete with Instagram? Mobli's download numbers aren't anything stupendous so far. Involuntary downloads are the new growth hacking.