public-transit

Moovit is today announcing that it has raised a $28 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital. The round, which brings the public transit app maker’s total fundraising to $31.5 million, will be used to expand and support the company’s nascent service.

And make no mistake: Moovit’s service has grown a lot in the last year. It had just 600,000 users in March — now it has over 3 million. It partnered with TIM Brazil, a wireless carrier in one of its most important markets, to get its app pre-installed on consumers’ smartphones. It hasn’t had quite the runaway popularity of the most viral services, but it’s grown steadily. This funding should allow it to continue to do so.

Much of the funding will be used to improve the service’s infrastructure, Moovit CEO Nir Erez says. The service’s users currently generate 500 million passive reports (information shared without any action on the users’ part) each month, and Erez says that the company has yet to use that data as effectively as it would like. These improvements will be made in conjunction with updates to the app’s interface and its expansion to other platforms, like Windows Phone.

The funding will also be used to hire a small number of employees to manage the volunteers running the company’s support emails and Twitter accounts. Unfortunately for those volunteers, the company doesn’t plan on hiring them now that it’s raised this funding. It simply hopes to hire managers to oversee their work.

“We still have to rely on a vast majority of volunteers contributing data,” Erez says. “But with a really small number of paid employees, we will be able to be way more efficient in digesting this data, organizing it, and making sure it contributes to the community in the best way.”

In this way, the funding’s use is clear: Moovit will architect a system through which its users are better able to contribute to the service, whether it’s by offering transit data or helping with community outreach. The company won’t pay these users for their input, but it will directly improve a service on which they have come to rely.

As Erez told me in September:

Providing an application for free that provides value on a daily basis makes the crowd very much involved. People are willing to help us with translation, people are willing to help us with talking to other people and telling us what we should do next.

This new funding round won’t change that. The company will be just as reliant on “the crowd” as ever before — that’s the nature of being a crowdsourced application, after all.

[Image courtesy -Tripp-]