Blog Post

Mobile Startup Funding: Strangeloop $10 Million; Urban Airship $15 Million

What will be the most-used medium for consuming mobile content in the future: the web or apps? It’s a question that gets hotly debated, and a pair of funding deals underscores the fact that people are continuing to back both horses. Urban Airship, which adds functionality to apps, has picked up $15 million; while Strangeloop, which optimizes the speed of mobile (and online) web sites, has picked up $10 million.

The $15-million Urban Airship deal was led by strategic investors Verizon and Salesforce, with participation also from existing investors Foundry Group and True Ventures. This is the third round of funding for the company, which has raised $21 million to date.

Urban Airship, which gives developers tools to incorporate services like push notifications and payments into their apps for iOS, Blackberry and Android devices, says in a blog post announcing the deal that it has seen explosive growth in the last year, with a 1000 percent increase in traffic to its APIs this month. Currently the company is processing some one billion notifications per month, with seven billion tallied so far this year.

The Verizon investment in Urban Airship points to how carriers continue to hold out hope that they will play a part the growth of mobile services, not just as passive networks but as active players. It’s not clear now whether Verizon already provides some of its billing and location services as a back end to Urban Airship, but something like this could well be on the cards. Salesforce, meanwhile, is seeing a lot of growth of its mobile services, and you can equally see how it would open up new doors of opportunity for a company like this to integrate Urban Airship’s offering into its wider framework enabling enterprise support systems.

Although we are still seeing a lot of money being pumped into smaller companies that are enabling different aspects of app production, there are also signs that there is some consolidation also starting to take shape. Urban Airship itself just last week acquired a competing platform, SimpleGeo.

Strangeloop. The $10 million raised by Vancouver, Canada-based Strangeloop, meawhile, is the second round of funding for the startup, which has now picked up around $22 million to date.

The actual investors have not been named, although TechCrunch reports that they are a group of “Canadian super angels.”

Strangeloop, which started life as a company focused on speeding up the load time for web pages as viewed on PCs, has more recently moved into offering its product for mobile web pages as well. Getting these, and the mobile web “apps” that are starting to appear in increasing numbers, up to speed will be essential if those promoting the mobile web over apps want to claim better performance: today, as a general rule (although not in all cases), native apps tend to show faster performance than those designed for the mobile web.

Through its literally-titled Mobile Site Optimizer product, Strangeloop offers different tools to enhance sites built on standards like HTML5 and SPDY from Google.

The company’s CEO, Jonathan Bixby, wrote in a blog post that the company has seen 200 percent growth quarter on quarter, and counts big names like eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Visa and Travelocity among its customers.

He adds that the funding will be used to expand its business, particularly in Europe, Asia and Latin America — three regions where he says the company is seeing “huge market demand.”