If This Then That, a four-year-old startup that is trying to act as a middle layer between the physical world and the internet, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investor Andreessen Horowitz, and brings IFTTT’s total funding to $39 million.
The funding is great news for IFTTT, which is facing more competition in its space on the consumer side from Yo and on the industrial side from sites like Zapier. At its core IFTTT is middleware that bridges two services that can range from Gmail to light bulbs. For example, you can create IFTTT recipes that connect your phone’s camera to Gmail or to Dropbox, so every time you snap a picture it’s sent to Dropbox or to a group of email recipients. I’ve used it to tie stock market movements from Yahoo Finance to my Philips Hue light bulbs — forcing them to turn green when selected stocks move by more than 10 percent.
IFTTT has created what it calls “channels” for more than 125 different services, and offers users the ability to browse the recipes created by combining the channels. I think it’s one of the easiest ways to help people who can’t program or wrangle APIs try to personalize their digital experiences. And it’s growing in popularity, as more and more businesses want to create IFTTT channels.
IFTTT doesn’t disclose the number of users but it did say that there are 14 million personal recipes on IFTTT. I have about five or six myself and have had as many as a dozen, so it’s not clear how many users that number correlates to. Also still up in the air is how IFTTT plans to make money from its role as the link between objects and the web.
I’m a fan of making the web services side more real-time with more frequent API pulls, but that may not be something others will pay for. It seems to be aiming to build up a big enough user base that less popular products would pay to get a channel on the service or to advertise recipes on the service.
In fact, the latter is already happening. IFTTT has been investing in making its channels and recipes more searchable, with curated recipe collections for The Internet of Things or for Outer Space. It also has embarked on some monetization efforts with sponsored curations such as a group of Recipes for Athletes sponsored by Nike.
With this round of capital IFTTT now has runway to experiment and to continue adding as many channels as their awe services and connected products. As a fond user of the service, I can only hope it can achieve a mainstream success and find a business model that doesn’t clutter up the service with advertising or intrusive data collection methods. I’ll have to ask IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets about this when he’s onstage in October at our Structure Connect event in San Francisco.