Scott Lahman, CEO & Alex Scissors, Head of Monetization

Text+ Text+
Envisioning the future of communication

In 2008, serial entrepreneur Scott Lahman had an insight that the rise of smartphones would change SMS messaging. “I had started a mobile gaming company,” he recalls, “and witnessed how gaming evolved, and I hypothesized that mobile messaging would move to be over-internet rather than through texting plans.” So he got to work building his messaging app, Text+. And Scott was right — within the first week of launching in 2009 he saw about 1M downloads of the new app. “You can get a free phone number, customize your telecom service, and access a lot of amazing features at no out-of-pocket cost,” highlights Scott.

With near immediate success and visible opportunities to grow, Scott brought on Alex Scissors to lead the venture's monetization strategy. The Text+ team wanted to keep the app free for users but also fund the business, so they introduced ads. “We incorporated advertising in 2010 and have built out Text+ to be an ad-supported telecom business,” says Scott. “We’ve found advertising to be a really powerful way to open up services for people and scale for our business. With this business, we’re able to offer a service for free that would normally cost $50-200 per month.”

Text+ Text+
The Text+ app.
“Ads are what we use to drive and power our business. We use ads so that we can offer free texting and calling and help people of all economic backgrounds communicate with their friends and family. If we didn’t have ads, we wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Connecting communities with ad-supported telecom

Being ad supported has helped the Text+ team fuel growth and continue pursuing their mission. “Ads are what we use to drive and power our business,” Alex says. “For some people unable to pay for expensive plans, we’re their primary telecom provider. We use ads so that we can offer free texting and calling and help people of all economic backgrounds communicate with their friends and family. Without ads, we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Alex, Scott and the Text+ team have found purpose and meaning through their work helping people of all economic backgrounds. “We hear from people who are really thankful to have an ad-supported option to help them stay in touch with their friends and families for free,” Alex says. And it’s a service that adds real value with flexible features at no cost.

Delivering on their value exchange

That value exchange has resonated with people around the world, and helped Text+ amass more than 200M downloads to date. And the team continues innovating to make sure their app remains a leader in the messaging space. “With Text+, we’ve really rethought some core features about a phone number,” Scott explains. “For example, our service is cloud-based, so it’s not tied to a single device – meaning that if you sign in on three phones, all three will ring when a call comes in, which is really helpful for businesses. The app also has features that make it easy to re-use older devices. “You can download Text+ and have a really great messaging app,” Alex says, “keep your phone number, find your old messages, all from an older device that might not have the most up-to-date messaging capabilities built in.”

Finding the right partner in Google AdMob

To support their ads business, the Text+ team decided to partner with Google AdMob. “As a global app,” Scott explains, “AdMob is a strong partner that can fill our ad inventory in any country, with high quality ads, and innovative ad units. AdMob really helps our business grow globally, gives us peace of mind, and unlocks new ways for us to earn revenue.” The Text+ team has also found value in their AdMob partnership beyond their bottom line. “The AdMob team has given us great guidance and made a lot of resources available to us,” Alex says. “It’s been clear that they really care about our overall business health, revenue, and success, not just our success with Google – and that’s the AdMob approach that we’ve seen in action. It’s been a terrific partnership.”

The team sees a lot of opportunities ahead for their business and the industry. “So much of smartphone communication is over WiFi these days,” says Scott. “We still see a really big opportunity to help people tap into that, save money, and get more flexible telecom services.” Plus, Alex adds, “we still see tens of thousands of downloads per day; it’s clear people are interested and excited about this product and there’s a lot of room to grow.”

About the Publisher

Scott Lahman is Founder and CEO of Text+. Before founding Text+, Lahman founded JAMDAT Mobile in March 2000 with Austin Murray and Zachary Norman. JAMDAT Mobile had a successful IPO in 2004 and was eventually sold to Electronic Arts for $680 million in 2006. Prior to founding JAMDAT, Scott was an officer and executive at Activision from 1994 to 2000. Lahman began his career in the film and television industry, most notably as a development executive for Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions from 1990 to 1994. Lahman holds a B.A. from Columbia University.

Alex Scissors is the Head of Monetization at Text+.
About the author