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Sinch spins out of Rebtel, allows developers to add voice and messaging layer to their apps
In recent months mobile messaging has become one of the hottest spaces around, with a series of acquisitions and investments. That included Rakuten's $900 million purchase of Viber, Alibaba's $215 million investment in Tango, and, of course, Facebook's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp.
Of course, not every company has the resources to go out and spend that much on a company that will supply them with messaging services, nor would they even want to. Most will simply want a cheap, and easy, way to integrate them into their apps.
That is where communications platform Sinch comes in. Originally incubated within mobile VoIP giant Rebtel as a developer API, Sinch launched as an independent company on Wednesday.
The service was first created under Rebtel seven years ago, it was around 18 months ago that Sinch CEO Andreas Bernström began to see an explosion in the space, with massive amounts of money coming in, he told me in an interview.
It was only six or seven months ago that Bernström began to invest heavily in the idea of spinning out as stand alone business. And now, the company is ready to be its own separate entity, with its own business and brand, he said.
The company enables both iOS and Android developers to add a layer of voice and messaging to their apps. It provides them with the tools that allow developers to add mobile communication features within their apps in 15 minutes or less.
The service can be used by multiple different verticals Bernström said, including dating apps, which would allow people to speak to each other on the phone before their first date; also booking engines, which would allow customers to call hotels, rental car agencies and airlines directly from the app, without ever having to leave; and multi-player games, where players might want to speak to each other while on the same team.
In addition to the launch, Sinch also announced that it had raised its first round of funding: a $12 million round from a roster of investors that included Index Ventures and Balderton Capital.
The funding will go toward pushing out new products. Right now Sinch offers app to app calling, IM, group messaging, SMS, termination, but Bernström would also like to add new features like group calling, chat forums, as well as adding rich media like pictures, video messages and conference calling.
In addition the company will be building out its team, going from 40 employees to 52, hiring sales people and evangelists to reah out to those in the developer community.
Finally, the company is looking to expand to new tech hubs. It currently has offices in Stockholm and San Francisco, but is looking to expand to communities in London, Tel Aviv, and Berlin, among others. Bernström made it clear that Sinch is not looking to open offices in all of these cities, as one central office in each region would suffice, but could open a small one if it becomes viable.
While there are others in this space providing similar services, what separates Sinch, Bernström said, is how easy it is to implement.
"With Sinch the idea is that with, literally, two lines of codes we can provide you with messaging service," he said. "We take care of all the back end, giving customers more flexibility and making it simpler."
Messaging, he said, is one of the keys to making an app successful in the long run.
"There are about 1.5 million apps and around 1.3 billion smartphones. In five years both of those numbers will be five times what they are now," said Bernström. "We fell that communication is an intrinsic basic human need. It helps apps become more personal, sticky and interesting, and people will spend more time on them if messaging is well integrated."
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Founded in September 2009, Tango is a free mobile video calling service that connects family and friends wherever they are. Tango offers high-quality video calling for iOS and Android devices and works over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. More than 10 million people in 190 countries are using Tango to communicate every day, stay connected, and share special moments as they happen. Download the Tango application for free in the App Store and Android Market. Tango is based in Palo Alto, California.