Status.net, which distributes open-source microblogging software similar to Twitter, has closed a round of financing that the company plans to use to take its services into the enterprise market. The Montreal-based startup has raised $1.4 million from New York venture fund FirstMark Capital, along with BOLDstart Ventures, iNovia Capital and Montreal Start Up, and FirstMark partner Scott Switzer — founder of the open-source advertising platform OpenX — will join the company’s board of directors. The new round brings the total amount raised by Status.net to $2.3 million.
Status.net was founded by programmer Evan Prodromou in 2008 as an open-source alternative to Twitter, and operates much like WordPress (see disclosure below) does for blogging: the company’s free software allows individuals or companies to run a Status.net server that connects to other microblogging servers (it can feed updates into Twitter and other services as well), but it also offers an enterprise version that is hosted and run by Status.net, as well as a subscription support service. Among others, the software is used by the creator of the Twitter account (and upcoming TV series) S***MyDadSays.
Prodromou said that the funding would allow the company to continue “building an enterprise sales and support team to further push StatusNet software into the Global 1,000 market.” Status.net will be facing some competition there, however: A number of other enterprise software companies are also focusing on bringing microblogging and other social-media features to the corporate market, including Salesforce.com (s CRM) — which launched a Twitter-style service called Chatter as part of its suite of customer-relationship management offerings — as well as Yammer and Jive Software, which recently launched a social-media dashboard for corporate custmers.
Interest in open-source alternatives to Twitter rose earlier this year, as the social network suffered a series of outages and periods of reduced availability due to infrastructure issues and the load caused by the World Cup soccer tournament. Programming guru and RSS developer Dave Winer and others have advocated for an open-source version of the service, or at least an open alternative that would be able to share some of the load when Twitter is overwhelmed.
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Disclosure: Automattic (maker of WordPress.com) is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.