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Summary:

Bump Technologies has grown from a novel way to share contacts into a full fledged content sharing network that is moving beyond its bump mechanic. Now the company has raised $16 milllion to further pursue its vision of transforming the way people interact through their phones.

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Bump Technologies has grown from a novel way to share contacts into a full-fledged content sharing network that may no longer require its well publicized bump mechanic. The total number of iOS and Android downloads of the app tripled in 2010, growing to 25 million. The underlying technology is being tapped by hundred of companies. Now the company has raised $16 million to further pursue its vision of transforming the way people interact with each other through their phones.

The latest funding brings Bump’s total to about $20 million, with backing from new investor Andreessen Horowitz, along with previous investors Sequoia, Sherpalo Ventures and SV Angel. Marc Andreessen will join Sequoia’s Greg McAdoo on the board.

Bump Technologies’ goals sound ambitious, but the strong growth of Bump suggests the company is on to something powerful. A little over a year ago, the company began allowing people to share photos, which quickly became the service’s most shared content. Since then, Bump has added other features including calendar and music sharing. Sharing traffic has increased fivefold over the last five months, a timeframe that coincides with a faster iPhone version of the app released in August. On Christmas Day, users shared 20 photos a second through Bump. PayPal is one of 400 companies that have built apps that utilize the Bump API, and a new, and faster, API released recently is getting even more attention, especially from some gaming developers.

Last month, the company enabled virtual bumps so users can share content with each other without having to actually bump phones. That suggests where the future of the company lies: It’s not in the actual physical bump, which is fun, but not the critical point. It’s in creating an alternative network for sharing private content, one that doesn’t leverage old channels such as email or text messaging, said CEO David Lieb.

“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in messaging,” he said. “Instead of using email and text, which were designed years ago, there is a better way of communicating with people that leverages the strengths of (the iPhone and Android) platforms. You got these things in your pocket and it’s always on and you can easily share things you care about in a private fashion.”

Bump still hasn’t worked out a monetization strategy. Lieb said the company is still focusing on growth and examining which interactions are most important to people. The next update will be a new Android version due out next month. With $16 million in funding, the company won’t be in danger of running out of money anytime soon, but when it comes time, the company should be able to find ways to monetize Bump, perhaps through a paid version with added functionality.

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