Sense Gets New Funding, Focuses on New Markets

Sense Networks, a location-based services company headquartered in New York, said today it’s raised an undisclosed amount of money from investors led by Intel Capital. Citing a gag order from Intel, CEO Greg Skibiski not only wouldn’t say how much the round was for, he wouldn’t disclose who the other investors were. Such an attempt to control what is just basic information is straight-up bad behavior on the part of the venture arm as far as I’m concerned. VentureBeat reported last week that Sense had raised $6 million following a battle-of-the-funding between Intel and Sequoia Capital. It had previously raised $3 million.

One way or the other, it makes perfect sense that investors would be getting all hot and heavy about this company, which combines historical and real-time data gathered through GPS and Wi-Fi with real-world information to come up with analytics that can help users make better decisions. It was shortly after meeting with Sense Networks’ Chief Scientist Tony Jebara last year that I started to admire the idea behind the company and at the same time to consider the true potential of its underlying platform, Macrosense.

“Imagine mapping foot traffic to, say, Gap or Apple stores. While it would never tell you if people were shopping or not, it would be a great indication of how hot (or not) the store was, enabling you to trade on the information,” is how I described it.

macrosense_placegraph.gifTurns out the company had in fact been targeting the hedge fund industry with its platform, but was forced to change tack once the economic crisis took hold. The new focus has paid off; it’s found lots of takers. “Companies are licensing the Macrosense platform from us in an enterprise model right now,” Skibiski told us.

Among those that have been calling on Sense are phone companies and handset manufacturers, essentially those “sitting on tons of location data from apps like maps or from cell tower triangulation every time there’s a call, SMS or a data connection.”

The platform helps these companies understand their customers better and figure out how to personalize their mobile experiences, such as through optimizing maps and app stores (and advertising) based on the information gathered and analyzed by the platform. I think Sense and companies offering similar services will benefit handsomely from this drive for hyperpersonalization on mobile devices.