Motorola Scoops Up Stealth Mobile Enterprise Startup 3LM Well Before Launch

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

3LM, a stealth mobile enterprise startup founded by Android’s former head of business development, said it was scooped up by Motorola today — well before the Mountain View-based startup even launched a product.

While the company isn’t sharing any specifics about what it plans to launch, the grand vision is to topple Blackberry’s long reign and make Android the de facto OS for corporate and enterprise use.

“We’ll provide everything we think we really need to have Android compete equally with RIM in functionality and capabilities,” said founder and chief executive Tom Moss. “We’ll help Android outshine Blackberry.”

Moss, who was the lead on Android’s partnerships with device manufacturers and carriers for three years, left Google last fall to start the company. It raised a modestly-sized $1.5 million round from Accel Partners and other angel investors, who aren’t public.

Moss said he accepted the acquisition offer from Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. because it would give the 10-person company credibility and reach, helping it secure and follow-through on large deals faster than if it were operating on its own. Even though 3LM is now Motorola-owned, it will still have the freedom to work with competitors.

“We need to be a platform play,” Moss said. “They are supportive of us working with other device manufacturers and giving us a huge amount of independence. We’re a wholly owned subsidiary that operates on its own.”

He said this isn’t entirely unprecedented as Motorola has bought technology before that it has licensed out to rivals. “It’s about making sure there is enough separation between the two companies that others are comfortable working with us,” he said. “The wall will also help keep the startup spirit so we can execute at a faster pace than if were inside the company.”

Moss said 3LM will launch a “360-degree solution” in the second quarter of this year that covers corporate needs like having a secure communication channel, a console for IT administrators and supporting compliance with company policies.

Making Android attractive for enterprise use is an interesting challenge because it requires overcoming the many security risks inherent to the open way in which Google manages the platform.

Because Google gives developers far deeper access to the OS than Apple does and because it doesn’t vet apps before they enter the Android Marketplace, the risks that that an Android device succumbs to a virus are much higher. Moss wouldn’t reveal much about how 3LM plans to fix this issue.

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