High Growth Mobile Social Network Gains Chairman from the Gods

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The UK mobile social network start-up playtxt.net has appointed John Paterson, ex CEO of Zeus Technology as its Chairman.

The UK mobile social network start-up playtxt.net has appointed John Paterson, ex CEO of Zeus Technology as its Chairman.

John Paterson has a proven track record of running growth businesses and recovering the problematic ones that aren't. He grew Systems Union from £100k to $100m during the 90's and in 2002, when the web server software company Zeus Technology was overheating with losses of £5m on a turnover of £1.6m, John instigated the company's recovery. Since then he has continued to get his hands dirty turning around software companies and even found time to start his own. But the playtxt social network is a change of direction for the trouble shooter. He says he's joining a business this time which seemed to be doing most things the right before he'd even walked through the door.

John met playtxt's CEO Andrew Scott in July 2006 after the then 30 year old founder was searching for a web CRM system. "I liked the straight forward approach John's company Really Simple Systems took to software design ... we ended up talking by email and eventually met for coffee." The Cambridge based start-up built a strong relationship with John, who kept in touch as Andrew took the company through its first round of private investment.

Andrew says "We had a basic location based mobile social network running back in 2002 but it was very early to market ... We've been waiting for consumers and mobile data tariffs to catch up!" In 2004 Andrew employed his now CTO, Clive Cox and in 2005 expanded the team to three. "I'd funded the company myself until then but as MySpace and other services blossomed on the web in 2005 I knew that we had to start ramping up development for an inevitable growth in demand for similar services on mobile ... So we decided to do an external investment round. We got as far as term sheets with a couple of groups but couldn't agree on a non-exec board member. In Q2 2006 we decided enough was enough and we did our own private angel funding round. At the same time I also met John. So it's all worked out rather well!"

playtxt launched to consumers in its current form at the end of October 2006. In just four months they already reached over 50,000 users. Five months post launch, playtxt is now starting a second angel funding round. "Along with formalising my position at Chairman, I am also an investor in this round. Andrew is very ambitious, (he) has enormous drive and commitment and I really believe in the business. My investment demonstrates that belief. Working with these guys is exciting". 'These guys' already consists of a team of six, plus a student intern "She's outnumbered, but coping well" jokes Andrew.

playtxt was the first global, mobile location based social network in the world; but the founder is far from complacent: "We have been around a while so we understand the market fully, but we realise that doesn't guarantee any success. We're up against the social networking start-ups on the West Coast" he said, referring to Silicon Valley "...and many of those are backed by very big guns. Lots of Web 2.0 companies have popped up in the last 6 months. Some of which are mobile related. And yes some of which are competitors for us".

Andrew explained what he meant by big guns: "Over there you have ex-board members or founders of some of the worlds biggest new brands like e-bay and Amazon. These guys are running and investing in a new wave of online and mobile software. And if its not angels with big wallets it's the VC's like Sequoia Capital who take greater risks investing in new digital services and concepts".

It's always said that optimism is a pre-requisite for successful entrepreneurs and Andrew proved no different, ending: "...but we've got some very cool technology launching in the coming months ... we've got John's experience and reputation onboard and have also gained another mobile industry veteran recently as a non-exec. We've had early conversations with various people and after this angel funding round, who knows we might decide to get some big guns as extra ammunition ourselves!"


playtxt® is a new breed of online community; global, location based and mobile. Who What Anywhereâ„¢ is a mantra describing how users can receive relevant user generated content & interact with other members. Analysing a user's behaviour in their friend's network enables playtxt to deliver semantic personalised content without traditional keyword search, which can be cumbersome on mobile devices. The service is free for end users and also includes all the regular functionality you would expect from a social network including instant messaging and free SMS. The mobile friends network went live October 2006 and the UGC will follow in May 2007.

John Paterson - is a seasoned operations director in the Information Technology sector who has delivered growth strategies to early stage companies, turnarounds to troubled companies and exits or trade sales to successful companies. He has over 20 years of global experience in the technology sector having run operations in almost every major country.

Andrew Scott - started young. Self employed in I.T. from 16, his first client was the school he was then still at, setting up their £70,000 technology department. At 21 he started his first Internet company and later started a web development company: worldwidecity.com was sold to a plc in 2001. The company launched the worlds first online digital news archive and the UK's first SMS flirting site "DinnerDateAuctions". Andrew is currently CEO of playtxt, a mobile technology company which operates a worldwide mobile social network. He contributes to trade press and speaks at industry events.


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