MADRID - I originally blogged about Tuenti in April 2008 here. Over four years on from then, and things have evolved dramatically for the Spanish start-up (with international founders).
Tuenti now has over 13 million users and belongs to Telefonica (acquired in 2010). Far from maintaining its traditional approach of "acquire startup and shove under doormat", Telefonica has embraced the potential of Tuenti and has taken it under the umbrella of Telefonica Digital.
Make no mistake, with the new Telefonica Digital division, the European operator has big plans to drive revenue and traffic growth from its numerous digital assets (including Jajah, acquired in 2009).For example, it launched the "Tu Me" free voice and messaging app earlier this year. Now Tuenti is opening up to English, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Slovak, and Czech audiences.
Monetizing social networks is no simple task when a large part of the audience accesses the service via mobile instead of web (witness Facebook), but in the short term it can open up new markets for Telefonica and drive business across its digital asset. Also, Tuenti prides itself on its additional levels of privacy security, in terms of both sharing and identity, which will allow it to offer an edge compared to other social networking services.