Jumptap Gets $26M Funding Infusion
The funding will be used to expand the Cambridge, Mass.-based company's global ad sales and operations division to meet growing demand from advertisers.
JumpTap says it reaches 140 million wireless subscribers through partnerships with 17 mobile operators and content providers including The Associated Press, AccuWeather.com and Superpages.com.
"The closing of this round by these prestigious investors during a tight financial credit climate sends a strong and positive message about their confidence in the growth potential of mobile search and advertising and our ability to execute on our long-term vision," said Dan Olschwang, president and CEO of JumpTap, in a statement.
The financing comes in the midst of a rapidly evolving mobile search market. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Verizon Wireless and Google are close to a deal on mobile search, highlighting a shift by carriers toward alliances with the major Web search players.
Sprint Nextel recently made Google the default browser on 40 of its phones, and AT&T plans to use Yahoo to power search on its Media Net portal beginning later this year. The major wireless operators have historically been reluctant to share ad revenue with the Web portals, choosing instead to work with smaller partners like JumpTap and Medio to supply search and other services.
But the carriers' walled garden strategies are beginning to crumble as the mobile landscape opens up. "It does seem carriers once feared the search engines eating their lunch and now they're doing deals with them," said Greg Sterling, who leads the local mobile search practice for Opus Research.
But that trend doesn't necessarily bode ill for JumpTap, which provides white-label search to carriers including Alltel Wireless and Virgin Mobile. In addition to providing specialized search for mobile content such as ringtones, the company has diversified more broadly into mobile advertising.
"Their future exists more as an ad network than a search engine," said Sterling. To that end, JumpTap has recently notched ad-related deals including a partnership with Pinch Media to place ads in iPhone applications.
In April, it reached an agreement to handle mobile advertising for NBC Universal and Fox, serving ads on the mobile sites of shows such as "Heroes," "The Office," and "24."
"JumpTap has successfully positioned itself as the hub of the mobile advertising ecosystem and demonstrated its ability to attain its goals," said Mark Mackenzie, vice president and head of digital media venture capital investing at AllianceBernstein, in a statement.
Underscoring its ambitions in mobile advertising, JumpTap in July announced the opening of its New York office at 275 Madison Avenue. WPP Group took a 2.5% stake in JumpTap in early 2007, seeking a foothold in the emerging mobile ad business.