For the best example of how much investors are willing to bet on a mobile content play that can build an audience outside the wireless carriers' platforms, look no further than Thumbplay.
The New York-based startup just raised another $18 million from investors including Brookside Capital Partners and Cross Creek Capital. For more details, see the company's news release in our comment section.
The Series E round raises Thumbplay's total investment to a staggering $54 million, according to a company spokesman.
The company has signed licensing deals with entertainment giants such as EMI and SonyBMG, which last month agreed to give Thumbplay access to ring tones, games and music videos from top-tier artists like Christina Aguilera and Beyonce.
Those agreements, along with distribution agreements with AOL and MSN Mobile, have helped the company grow quickly -- fast enough that it won first prize in the Vator.tv/Always On "Media Game Changers" competition.
We plan to get Thumbplay CEO Are Traasdahl on the phone later today to hear what he plans to do with all that money. For now, you can hear Traasdahl giving the Thumbplay pitch in his own words by clicking the video link in this post.
The Thumbplay round is good news for other mobile content companies such as Vringo.