(Updated: To reflect funding round amounts)
Have you ever wanted to use an Android app, but felt absolutely helpless because you don't have an Android phone to run it? OK. Maybe not. But apparently, there are many who do.
Three-year-old BlueStacks, which makes software to help people run Android apps on their PCs (not Macs just yet), announced Thursday morning that it's raised $6.4 million in a Series B round of funding, from strategic partners Citrix and AMD. The new round brings the total capital raised to $14 million, including the $7.6 million raised from Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint, Ignition and others back in May.
It's not a surprise that big-name venture capitalists would back BlueStacks. Founder and CEO Rosen Sharma has a history of starting and selling his companies, two of which were sold to Citrix, which came in as a strategic investor in the second round. On top of Rosen's connections, the market for Android apps on PCs seems ripe for growth.
There are some 350,000 Android apps in the marketplace today and about 200 million Android phones, said Rosen, in an interview with me. But there are a billion PCs, he added. BlueStacks helps anyone who doesn't own an Android phone (like me) to run Android apps on their computers.
The software is mainly used by companies for now, said Rosen. For example, one customer, PopScrap, has an Android app for recycling centers and scrapyards. But often many scrapyards won't have employees or management who have Android phones. In order for them to use the app, they download BlueStacks' software. Corporations pay BlueStacks by the seat, or per computer, to install the software, and a recurring fee per apps downloaded.
Citrix is one of BlueStacks channel partners, selling the software to its enterprise clients. AMD is another partner. AMD doesn't resell the software but does encourage its PC maker customers that integrate AMD chips into their hardware to also include BlueStacks' software in the computer.
But beyond the corporate customer, BlueStacks is now targeting consumers.
Just last week, BlueStacks also launched its consumer endeavor, offering its software for download on its website. In one week, the company saw several hundred thousand downloads across 100 countries, said Rosen. Right now, this software is free. But a paid version will be released soon.
With big names behind BlueStacks, as well as Rosen's track record, this is a company worth keeping an eye out on. Rosen has started eight companies, five of which have had exits. Rosen founded Vxtreme, which he sold to Microsoft in 1997. He founded Teros, which was sold to Citrix in 2005. He then founded GreenBorder, which was sold to Google in 2007, Solidcore, which was sold to McAfee in 2009 and then Cloud.com, which was sold to Citrix in 2011.
With his track record with Citrix, why not sell BlueStacks to Citrix, rather than take an investment? I asked.
Said Rosen: "It's too much fun."