Alibaba pushes forward to lead $280m investment in TangoMe

The messaging service market is certainly heating up, and the latest news is that Alibaba wants to get involved, apparently leading a $280 million (£170 million) investment in TangoMe.

The company's Tango service offers free messaging, video, voice calls and all the usual trappings – and is evidently a juicy prospect for funding, in a market which is heating up ever since Facebook applied the blowtorch of a staggering $19 billion (£11.4 billion) outlay for WhatsApp.

It's clearly a growing market, with lots of players now jostling for messaging users – we reported just yesterday on China's WeChat, which itself is pursuing international expansion plans after recently hitting the 355 million active monthly users mark (not too far behind market leader WhatsApp, in fact).

The news of Alibaba's funding for TangoMe – with Tango having 200 million registered users, incidentally – comes courtesy of Bloomberg's sources, who also reckon that this investment puts the value of Tango at between $1 and $2 billion (£600 million and £1.2 billion).

Viber was also snapped up last month by Rakuten for a cool $900 million (£550 million), despite the former never having made any money, and running a net loss of $29.5 million (£17.6 million) last year.

Tango co-founder Eric Setton commented: "It's an incredibly competitive market, and a new era for these kinds of transactions and financing levels." He noted that Tango had previously received takeover bids, but had turned them down, adding: "Alibaba was very understanding that we wanted to keep leading the company."

The funding will be used to expand worldwide, bolster the number of engineers on board, and develop gaming content further.