MobileSpan debuts new product, announces fundraising

BOYD company has raised $2.3 million in overprescribed round

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 17, 2013
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(MobileSpan for BYOD™ - first “plug-in” solution that extends existing enterprise systems to workers’ personal devices.)

I no longer have to work in an office, and I am thankful for that every day. I hated commuting, but even more I could not stand the old, crappy computers my company was too cheap to fix. One time my computer crashed and I pointed to a stack of old computers in a pile and told to find one that worked. Seriously, that happened. It was terrible.

So if there is one movement in the enterprise space that I can get behind its BOYD or Bring Your Own Device. Basically, it allows employees to bring their own devices that can connect to their company's network, making things easier for everyone. The company doesn't have to buy new computers, employees get to use the type of device that they like the most and the IT guys are able to get more done.

MobileSpan is the latest company to emerge in this space, launching its MobileSpan for BYOD product. The product will be showcased during Alchemist Accelerator Demo Day in Mountain View, California on Thursday.

There are two things that separate MobileSpan from other BOYD services, Nils Bunger, co-founder and CEO of the company, said in an interview with VatorNews.

First, he said, there is the plug-in nature of the product. It features tight integration, allowing users to sign in in a single place, giving them access inside the firewall. Second, it offers seamless access from any device without allowing information to go out unprotected. It can be used in the place of a VPN, which Bunge says does not work well with mobile, and leaves information exposed.

In addition to launching its product, MobileSpan has also announced that it has raised $2.3 million in an oversubcribed Series A round. The company was originally looking to raise just $1.5 million, but quickly met that goal due to its team, Bunger said, which included some of the earliest engineers on Google Chrome who won Google Founders Awards.

The money will be used to expand to new platforms outside of the iPad and iPhone, including Android, Windows and Mac. It will also be used to begin marketing of the product, which has been minimal up until now. The company also plans to double the number of emplyees from five to 10.

Founded in 2011, the Santa Clara, California-based company only has two clients right now, neither of which it could divulge, though Bunger did say that one was a major airline. There are also numerous companies in the pipeline that will see deployment of the product over the next few weeks. Typically, he says, MobileSpan's clientele will be mid-market companies.

In terms of deployment, Bunger says that he will not be using the Yammer method, which involves getting employees to use the product first, then bringing it to management to show them how popular it is. Instead, MobileSpan starts by offering the product to the IT department for a sponsored project, giving them a relationship to the customer.

The philsophy behind the company is get IT out of having to provision any type of devices. By allowing employees to bring their own devices, Bunger says, it is a huge benefit to the IT department since people are more willing to try to fix their own computers, but will hand a company computer off out of fear of being responsible for breaking it. It increases the ability for employees to get work done, and it saved management money from having to buy a bunch of hardware. 

Eventually Bunger says that he wants BOYD to be pervasive, for it to be so commonplace that it doesn't even have a name anymore. As the years go by, we look at more and more screens, and eventually he wants every one of the screen to become a productive part of a person's day.

BOYD in the workplace

A report from Forrester's in October found that BOYD was becoming more commonplace for smaller devices.

When it came to desktops, 71% of them were issued to employees directly by the company they work for. For smaller devices, though, they are mostly brought in by the workers themselves, even though most of the company's surveyed said it is important to them that this changes over the next year.

55% of organizations in the study said they that supporting a larger number of smartphones was a high or critical priority for them over the next year, and 52% said the same thing about supplying tablets, the majority of non-desktop devices are still being bought and paid for by the employee themselves. Forrester calls this a “BYOD”, or bring your own device, policy.

For example, 70% of tablet users bought their own, while only 15% of companies issued the tablets directly and 13% of employees had to choose it from a company-approved list. While, as I noted above, companies aresay that they are most likely to supply their workers with smartphones, but 67% still bought it themselves. Only 15% were supplied by an employer.

According to the report, a majority of company’s are interested in developing a more comprehensive BYOD strategy.

“As companies are forced to support new types of operating systems, devices, andapplications for employees, many firms are focusing on developing and formalizing their bring your-own-device mobility strategy. More specifically, 54% of North American and European firms are focused on developing a comprehensive corporate policy to support employees who bring their own smartphones and tablets to work and use them for work activities. BYOD strategy initiatives include identifying which mobile devices, applications, and services firms will support, as well as the policies and procedures to guide help desk and customer service support for employees, partners, and customers,” Forrester said in the report.

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