Chat app Cubie relaunches as Pal+, shifts focus towards games and forums

by Tech in Asia

Users of Cubie, a mobile messenger with a following in Southeast Asia, will soon find that its owl mascot has flown away. Starting next week, the app will rebrand and relaunch as Pal+.

Pal+ retains all of Cubie’s chat features, but doubles down on the forums that the team introduced last autumn. Discussion boards and user-generated content now take up the bulk of the UI.

The company has also introduced a games section. Pal+ lists a set of recommended games that users can download from an app store, and there’s a forums section where players can discuss with one another.

pal+ screenies

In order to foster a community around gaming, Pal+’s team has partnered with Asiasoft, a Bangkok-based game publisher. Pal+ will help promote Asiasoft’s titles, while Asiasoft will promote Pal+’s SDK that lets players post directly into a Pal+ forum while in-game.

It’s not just Cubie the app that has changed. Cubie the company, once registered as a Cayman Islands company, has re-incorporated in Singapore under the name Pomelo Networks.

Pomelo CEO Thelma Lin, who joined the company in June 2014, says that the shift in Pal+’s branding reflects the app’s shift from pure messaging to more of a “games and forums” social network.

“We don’t want to just link people that already know each other, but rather provide a better place to discover and expand relationships,” says Lin. “Pal+ is easy to understand from [a viewpoint of] making pals and extending relationships, not just making friends.”

While Pomelo has incorporated in Singapore, it will retain roots in Taiwan. Lin says she expects to spend a few weeks every month in Southeast Asia, and intends to build out a marketing team in Singapore. But the engineering team will remain in the island where Pal+ was born. Mark Hsu, an early investor in the venture, says the name “Pomelo” was chosen because the fruit is indigenous to Southeast Asia, but familiar to Taiwan.

Cubie was founded in late 2011 by Cjin Cheng and Tempo Feng, a husband-and-wife team of entrepreneurs. While the messaging app saw rocket traction in Southeast Asia following its initial launch, it was quickly eclipsed by well-funded competitors like Line. In 2014, Cheng departed to join 500 Startups as entrepreneur-in-residence while Feng began a new venture. The company has received seed funding from B Dash Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, Bigglobe capital, Gumi Ventures, Pinehurst Advisors, and 500 Startups. The app currently has 12 million registered users worldwide.

Pal+ is currently open to select beta users of Cubie. It will hit Google Play and the App Store in the coming weeks.

Thumbnail image by o_hai

This post Chat app Cubie relaunches as Pal+, shifts focus towards games and forums appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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