In case you were any doubt about just how threatened all the carriers and traditional messaging providers are feeling by the advance of WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, and the likes, then here’s another data point for you: A white-label messaging startup called HDmessaging has just raised a $3 million funding round.
HDmessaging might have one of the most prosaic names in tech, but that doesn’t really matter to the Bay Area startup. Its chief purpose is to provide messaging services to mobile operators so they can fight what is probably a futile fight against WhatsApp and company. HD’s clients include Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Singtel, and T-Mobile, among others, accounting for 800 million people worldwide. HD says it processes 1 billion messages a month and is growing 200 percent quarter.
More interesting to me, however, is HD’s messaging ads product, MagicWords, which adds contextual links to text messages. The company’s algorithms pick up on particular words and link them to recommendations such as nearby restaurants, events, celebrity content, and the likes. So if all the carriers eventually just give up on messaging, which it seems is inevitably going to be won by over-the-top apps, HD at least has a backup plan that could work with other partners – even the ones they’re ostensibly in competition with today.
The HD team, which is split between California and Finland, has a track record on mobile advertising. Its founders previously started a company called Enpocket, which in the early 2000s was one of the world’s leading mobile advertising companies. It sold to Nokia in 2007 for $150 million.
HD’s investment round was led by GrandBanks Capital, with participation from IDG Ventures, Nexit Ventures, and Lighthouse Capital Partners.