November 11th, 2011
And for our next trick… Urban Airship secures $15.1 million, led by Salesforce and Verizon
A lot can happen in two years. And for Urban Airship, it’s been quite a ride. The company—which started with two of its cofounders taking advantage of a little known unemployment benefit that helps folks work on startups—has now grown to more than 50 people with the SimpleGeo acquistion. And now, they’ve got more than $20 million in funding.
What’s that? You didn’t hear about the most recent funding? Well, read away. Urban Airship secured $15.1 million in Series C, led by Salesforce.com and Verizon.
Here’s the round up.
We’ll use the funds raised from this round to continue to grow Urban Airship. We’ll be expanding the sales and business development efforts and looking to grow our international presence. We’ll also continue our integration of the SimpleGeo features into our platform giving us the ability to offer Context and leverage the Storage engine that is going to instrumental to our growth and understanding our customers data in real-time.
The new round brings in $15.1 million from new strategic investors Salesforce and Verizon and existing investors Foundry Group and True Ventures. That brings the total capital raised by Urban Airship to $21.6 million.
Urban Airship also issued Series C stock to Simple Geo stockholders as part of the acquisition. That stock was issued in addition to the $15.1 million on cash raised by Urban Airship, CEO Scott Kveton told me today in a phone interview.
According to Arrington, while the the $15.1 million series C round Urban Airship raised today was all in cash, the acquisition of SimpleGeo came in the form of stock, as a part of the larger round of financing. As SimpleGeo CEO Jay Adelson told Arrington (Adelson is now an advisor to Urban Airship), while his company considered both selling the company and raising a new round of company, a merger seemed the best way to go. Clearly, SimpleGeo’s investors, and those on the management team at SimpleGeo were excited by Urban Airship’s prospects going forward. And in this case, considering their strengths, this move seems to make a great deal of sense, strategically.
Urban Airship is giving it a run. Scott Kveton, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, said Monday’s funding enables the company to add marketing personnel and engineers to build out its “push notification” technology for smartphones.
Last week’s SimpleGeo deal added 13 employees, bringing Urban Airship’s work force to 51. The company had 10 open positions, and plans to post a dozen more job listings with the latest funding.
“We’ve really got a sense of where this business is going and now we can turn the crank,” Kveton said. “This investment helps us step up our game.”
Existing investors Foundry Group and True Ventures also participating in the funding, which will be used to expanding sales and business development efforts, as well as grow the company’s international presence, Kveton said. The company has raised about $21 million to date.
Urban Airship has become a favored tool of developers and publishers and has sent a total of 7 billion push notifications, with a rate of 1 billion a month now since launching in June of 2009. The company has more than 20,000 customers including most of the top media brands and is on 300 million devices.
With the acquisition of SimpleGeo, Urban Airship has become a more complete back-end service provider, one focused on delivering smarter, more context-aware tools necessary to keep mobile users engaged. That’s the name of the game and developers and publishers are increasingly looking to providers who can be more of a complete resource for them.
Mobile developers face a lot of challenges, but two main ones exist: getting people to download your application, and getting people to use it. Urban Airship is focused on the latter. Other than having a great app, there are different ways to engage people, and ultimately get them to execute in-app purchases, buy other apps from the same creator, and generally boost the ranking of the app itself. Urban Airship helps developers with push notifications, in-app purchases and reporting on how well these actions are performing.
Urban Airship has been riding high on the launch of iOS 5, which has an improved system for notifications. In the weeks since the new version of Apple’s operating system was made available, the company is seeing calls to its application programming interface increase tenfold. Indeed, when the OS first went live, all sorts of alarms were triggered, and the Urban Airship team thought one of its customers was having a glitch.
Widely-admired investor Brad Feld of Foundry Group spoke to a group of entrepreneurs assembled last week when he and partner Jason Mendelson visited the Urban Airship office in Portland. Feld said he hasn’t looked at a business plan or a resume in 15 years, but that he invests in products and teams that target themes that he and his co-investors find interesting. The two hinted that they would be in Portland a lot more over the next year, presumably because they were on site to help negotiate the large new round of funding.
For more information, visit Urban Airship or follow @urbanairship on Twitter.