European user-written local reviews service Qype, which had already raised €8 ($10.92/£6.84) million in 2008, says it’s now taking a €6.5 ($8.87/£5.56) million second round for a tilt at the buzzing and fast-growing mobile reviews segment.
€3 ($4.09/£2.56) million of the money comes from previous backers Advent, Partech and Wellington, but Qype also says specifically that €3.5 ($4.78/£2.99) million comes from Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) Ventures – another reason Qype’s future may lay in mobile…
Though Qype has had its own mobile app since January 2009 – downloaded by nearly a million people and now also on Android and BlackBerry – Vodafone’s investment has earned it a plan to launch co-branded Qype apps in Voda’s main European markets – UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands and Ireland. It’s therefore not clear what place Qype’s own brand has in future.
Qype debuted in 2006 – one of the earliest platforms for user-contributed place reviews and recommendations. But the location sharing buzz, coupled with mobility, has kicked off a reignition of the space.
In some ways, the segment is getting crowded for Qype. Yelp now operates on Qype’s European turf, Google’s Places foundation is increasingly strong, even if the Hotpot user reviews service Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has layered over looks a bit disjointed.
It therefore makes sense that Qype would get closer to a mobile carrier. Vodafone has track record in such acquisitions – but not necessarily in making them succeed. In 2008, it bought mapping service Wayfinder for 230 Swedish crowns but, its forced hand by free satnav from Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Android, this year began giving it away as open-source. And its hefty €31.5 ($42.99/£26.93) million acquisition of Danish social address book service Zyb in 2008 helped form the Vodafone 360 social aggregator – not a knock-out success.