4INFO, a leading mobile text advertiser founded in 2004, sends more text messages in the U.S. by volume than any other provider, according to Nielsen. They’ve already raised about $30M from top-name investors in over five rounds. Add to that total another $20M in life-support funding announced today.
With such messaging traction, 4INFO’s investors are making a big bet on the growth of the SMS (short message service) market. As VentureBeat puts it “like many companies in this environment, 4INFO is turning to its existing investors to help survive the tough times.” Those investors include NBC, Gannett, US Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Sand Hill Capital and Selby Ventures.
The economy is not the only thing beating up 4INFO, but bi-polar markets sure aren’t helping the cash-strapped company. But even with reccession pains, 4INFO has grown to a 70-person strong firm, based in San Mateo, Calif.
They’ve got money on their side, both in terms of funding and potential market growth. The mobile messaging ad market is expected to reach $2.4 billion this year, up 62 percent from last year, according to research firm eMarketer.
It’s unclear if $2.4 billion, or any of the other figures out there for the mobile messaging ad market, are accurate. Basic mobile phones are out, smart phones are in – at least as far as growth is concerned in the handset market. With so many flashy phone choices – like Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone – how long can the growth of the SMS market survive?
“Our visionary investment partners have allowed 4INFO to take the right risks and invest in building a mobile media platform that can consistently outperform and out-innovate the competition,” said CEO of 4INFO, Zaw Thet, in a statement. “As the only mobile company offering integrated mobile and traditional media advertising campaigns, we are very excited that strategic distribution partners like GE/NBC’s Peacock Equity Fund and Gannett, Inc. see the massive opportunity in connecting brands and services with mobile audiences.”
4INFO delivers over 80 million real-time, user-requested answers and alerts via text message per month. The 4INFO ad network exceeds 16 million users. All 4INFO content is ad-supported, with 4INFO customizing targeted, interactive SMS, WAP and mobile video campaigns on behalf of its advertising partners and publishers.
Rumors circulated back in 2007 that 4INFO would likely be sold for at least a couple of hundred million dollars, given the buoyant advertising market and its traction in texting, according to VentureBeat. 4INFO CEO Zaw Thet told the WSJ he expects the company to be profitable by the second half of this year.