The Best-Funded Mobile Startups of 2013

Dan Jones
Prime Reading
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

The best-funded private companies of 2013 so far represent the diverse swatch of industries, applications, and hardware that make up the mobile market today.

Alongside the ever-popular mobile social media startups sit companies that are creating smarter ways to handle wireless data, extend network capacity, and allow cheaper international roaming calls. Smart devices are also well represented with a WiFi thermostat that learns the temperatures its users like and a mobile health sensor the patient can swallow.

The data on this year's funding -- compiled from information provided by Rutberg & Co. -- indicates that 2013 might be one of the biggest yet for mobile venture capital investment. Not just amongst some of the youngest startups but also in very well established mobile companies that are too old to be called startups still but that are able to take advantage of the increased interest in areas like enterprise BYOD and mobile health to grab large investments for rapid expansion.

There are also, as you'll see, several companies bubbling around the $50 million round mark that didn't quite make the cut for the top 10.

Click on the links to see which companies are most flush with new VC cash in 2013:

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

The Top 5 Funded Private Companies in 2013

AirWatch LLC
Funding in 2013 so far:: US$225 million
Key investor/s: Insight Venture Partners
Chief executive officer: John Marshall
Number of employees: 400
Based in: Atlanta, Ga.
Company founded: 2003

AirWatch is an enterprise mobile device and application management company. It boasts over 7,000 customers globally and has been approved as a supplier of mobile software for the US government. Riding the wave of demand for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) support amongst the enterprise community, the company pulled in a $200 million series A investment round in February, which it claims is the largest of any technology company in recent history. Much of the company's upper management came from Manhattan Associates, leading the supply chain software company through a successful IPO in 1998.

Funding in 2013 so far:: US$130 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Index Ventures
Chief executive officer: Ilkka Paananen
Number of employees: 95
Based in: Helsinki, Finland
Company founded: June 2010

Supercell describes itself as a "tablet-first" games company, which started developing for the new devices in 2011 and now boasts a couple of super-popular iPad and iPhone games like Clash of Clans. It is reportedly the fastest growing games company in the world, making $2.4 million a day off a user base of more than 8 million players. Founded by a group of gaming veterans, Supercell claims a total valuation of $770 million. They also like to eat well.

Truphone Ltd.
Funding in 2013 so far:: US$118 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Roman Abramovich
Chief executive officer: Steve Robertson
Number of employees: 500
Based in: London, UK
Company founded: 2006

Truphone made headlines in the UK in February when Russian billionaire - and Chelsea soccer club owner -- Roman Abramovich pumped 70 million (US$118 million) into the company. Truphone, however, has a much longer history. It launched the first VoIP smartphone app in 2006 - invented by co-founder and CTO James Tagg - and has developed a global network to offer a SIM-based roaming program that offers low or local calling rates for users traveling internationally in over 200 countries via a reprogrammable SIM card.

Mobilitie LLC
Funding in 2013 so far:: US$100 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Shamrock Capital Growth Fund III
Chief executive officer: Gary Jabara
Number of employees: N/A
Based in: Newport Beach, Calif.
Company founded: 2005

Mobilitie's key play in wireless is building distributed antenna systems (DAS) that operate with all the major US carriers to improve coverage and capacity in crowded public areas. In 2012 and 2013, the company has been building DAS networks in stadiums such as Tropicana Field (MLB), Time Warner Arena (NBA), Arrowhead Stadium (NFL), and Nationwide Arena (NHL). Mobilitie has built out similar "host-neutral" coverage in major hotels such as the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Nest Labs
Funding in 2013 so far: US$80 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Google Ventures
Chief executive officer: Tony Fadell
Number of employees: 200
Based in: Palo Alto, Calif.
Company founded: 2010

Apple Inc. alumni Tony Fadell and Matt Rodgers - employees with a key role in creating the earlier generations of iPod and iPhone - started Nest Labs in 2010. The company has developed a $249 WiFi-enabled "smart thermostat" controlled via an iOS or Android app that it sells in the US. The thermostat is described as a "learning" device because it figures out what temperatures the user likes and turns down the temperature when they are out of the house.

The Lower Fifth

Twilio Inc.
Funding in 2013 so far: US$70 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Redpoint Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners
Chief executive officer: Jeff Lawson
Number of employees: 100
Based in: San Francisco, Calif.
Company founded: 2007

Twilio is mildly famous for being the startup that helped Rickroll folks at TechCrunch over the phone back in 2008. The serious business of Twilio, however, is application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it easier for developers to add in services like group chat over the web, Android, and iOS devices. Twilio says that 150,000 developers now use its APIs worldwide.

TOA Technologies
Funding in 2013 so far: US$66 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Technology Crossover Ventures
Chief executive officer: Yuval Brisker
Number of employees: 450
Based in: Beachwood, Ohio.
Company founded: 2003

This mobile workforce management company has a global reach and has been awarded a patent for its appointment scheduling software for mobile workers. Gartner Inc. put the company in its Magic Quadrant for field service management in 20012. TOA completed its $66 million round in July and is pushing ahead with further mobile and cloud field service management updates.

Proteus Digital Health
Funding in 2013 so far: US$62.5 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Oracle Corp.
Chief executive officer: Andrew Thompson
Number of employees: 100
Based in: Redwood City, Calif.
Company founded: 2001

Proteus Digital Health makes wireless sensors that can be worn or ingested to provide data on medication adherence, heart rate, sleep patterns, physical activity, and stress levels to users and care givers. The sensor that users swallow can be delivered as part of a pill! Proteus is one of the more visible private companies working on eHealth technology today, gaining FDA approval for its sensors over the last few years and pulling in investments of over $170 million since its inception.

Funding in 2013 so far: US$60 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Andreessen Horowitz LLC
Chief executive officer: Logan Green
Number of employees: 60
Based in: San Francisco, Calif.
Company founded: 2007 (Zimride)

Lyft provides an iOS or Android smartphone app that allows users in seven cities in the US to tap to find an inexpensive, shared ride. The app was first launched to the public in August 2012 in San Francisco and comes out of the Zimride car-pooling community. Despite the natty pink fabric mustaches that Lyft drivers put on their car grills to identify them as participants, the company has had less-than-fun legal issues in California this year. Nonetheless, on August 8, 2013, Lyft said that it has enabled 1 million shared rides through its smartphone app since launch.

Snapchat Inc.
Funding in 2013 so far: US$60 million
Key investor/s in 2013: Institutional Venture Partners (IVP)
Chief Executive Officer: Evan Spiegel
Number of employees: 4
Based in: Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Company founded: September 2011

Snapchat is a self-destructing social media app for iOS and Android first created as a class project by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy at Stanford University in 2011. The app lets users create an instant snapshot on their phone, share it with friends, and control how long the image remains on the phones before it disappears. The startup is now serving up over 200 million snaps a day.

Bubbling Under

With so many large VC rounds for mobile companies this year -- often dominated by one large investor -- there are several companies that are just bubbling under the top 10 that might have been expected to make the cut in years before.

Specifically, Mobile device management company Good Technology Corp. raised $50 million of a planned $60 million round at the end of April. Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile MEA, which provides wireless service in parts of the Middle East and Africa, also grabbed a $50 million round in March this year.

Mobile location-based search and social networking app developer Foursquare pulled together $41 million in convertible debt funding in April. Foursquare says that 35 million people use its app to check-in at bars, restaurants, and other social places around the world.

It doesn't appear that the speed and quantity of investments in mobile companies is slowing much this year either. At the beginning of August, Web and mobile performance testing company SOASTA Inc. scored a $30 million series E round aimed at expanding the company.

In June, meanwhile, still-secretive San Francisco mobile payments company Clinke, which doesn't even have a visible Web presence yet, scored a $25 million seed round. Analysts at Rutberg say this is the largest disclosed seed round in history.

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