The Morpheus & YCombinator Alum Plivo Raises Seed Round From Andreessen Horowitz & Others
Voice and messaging applications platform provider Plivo announced today that it has closed a $1.75M seed round of financing from investment firms Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated and SV Angel. Funding Will Be Used Primarily for Continued Innovation, Sales and MarketingLaunched in December 2011, Plivo is disrupting the hosted telephony space with the most scalable and feature-rich voice and messaging platform wrapped with flexible APIs and backed by 24/7 support. Plivo provides the highest level of reliability for enterprises that need a hosted environment for their voice and messaging applications, and enables enterprises, service providers and web developers to build applications that seamlessly integrate the web with telephony, both fixed and mobile. Plivo was first supported by Indian accelerator The Morpheus, and later on was taken into YCombinator.
"What Amazon did for web hosting in the cloud, Plivo is doing for telephony hosting," said Venky Balasubramanian, Co-Founder of Plivo. Venky co-founded Plivo with Mike Ricordeau in late 2011 -- the two developers met when they were both searching for a robust communications platform to develop voice applications. Finding none on the market, they collaborated to develop and launch the Plivo Cloud platform.
"There are three key aspects to building voice and messaging apps," Venky explained. "Establishing carrier contracts, building the technology for the infrastructure and then a team for operating and scaling it. We discovered it's easy for our customers to get carrier contracts in place once they have decent volumes, so there's little value-add for a platform provider to resell minutes. So instead of focusing on just reselling carrier minutes, we concentrated on building a platform that offers the most reliable infrastructure and the highest level of scale with no carrier lock-in. We do provide carrier services if needed by our customers; we have local phone numbers in 50 countries. The market response to our platform has been incredibly positive."
Since Plivo Cloud went live just a few months ago, the company has quietly signed on dozens of enterprise-class customers.
One of them is Imprezzio, a software solutions company that works primarily with Fortune 100 insurance and financial customers. "Reliability and scalability are our top priorities, given the business our clients are in," said Kelly Birr, CIO at Imprezzio. "Before switching to Plivo, we used another provider that essentially forced us to use their carrier contracts, at a huge markup, and just didn't deliver on the reliability side. Our experience with Plivo has been completely different -- the company and its platform are flexible and easy to work with, yet rock solid. They have exceeded our expectations at every turn."
According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, the market opportunity for hosted telephony is large and growing. A 2011 Frost & Sullivan survey of 205 North American C-level executives and IT professionals found that 40 percent of respondents are using hosted services today, and 67 percent of current users plan to increase their usage over the next 12 months. Further, the firm expects the North American hosted IP Telephony and UC services installed base to grow at a 29.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2018.
"We are very excited about our investment in Plivo," said Roger Lee, General Partner at Battery Ventures. "Hosted telephony is poised to explode as more companies move their applications to the cloud. Plivo's technology delivers incredible value to enterprise customers and has the potential to seriously disrupt the space. We're proud to partner with the management team and support the company to help drive growth and capture the opportunity ahead."
According to Venky, Plivo plans to use the seed money primarily for continued innovation, sales and marketing. Plivo currently has 17 employees, and plans to have more than 20 by year's end. It will also be expanding its platform beyond voice and messaging into areas such as video and WebRTC, which will enable applications such as voice calls and video chat without plugins. "As more web browsers support WebRTC, we're seeing strong interest from our customers," said Mike Ricordeau. "We're well down the WebRTC development path and will make some exciting product announcements later in the year."
We wish Venky and his team all the best, and will soon bring to you interesting updates from them!