Urban Airship Raises $15.1 Million from Strategic Investors Salesforce and Verizon

Urban Airship, which provides developers with tools to manage push notifications and use in-app purchases intelligently, went for another round of funding with $15.1 million from strategic investors Verizon and Salesforce. The rest of the round was filled out by Foundry Group and True Ventures, both of whom are already investors in the company.

While Salesforce and Verizon are new investors, Urban Airship already had existing relationships with both. “Both companies have been interested in our platforms and how we might be able to work together and participating in our financing was a way to kick that off,” said Scott Kveton, Urban Airship’s CEO in a post on the company’s blog.

The company is taking funding at a time when many other players are barreling into the space with all sorts of software development kits and tools to offer mobile developers. It’s becoming crowded enough that in the last couple of months, several companies like Appcelerator, Verious and Chupa have all launched marketplaces for mobile app components. In fact, Urban Airship acquired a casualty this competition when it bought location platform SimpleGeo for a reported $3.5 million in stock last week. SimpleGeo’s location APIs were not competitive enough with what bigger companies like Google and Foursquare were able to offer third-party developers.

That said, Urban Airship says its business is growing rapidly with a more than tenfold increase in traffic to the company’s APIs in the last month alone. The company counts Groupon and Yahoo among its clients. Altogether, Urban Airship says its 20,000 customers are sending more than 1 billion notifications a month from almost 30,000 iOS, Android and BlackBerry apps. The company uses a freemium model. It has two tiers of pricing at $199 and $499 per month and it also does custom packages for bigger, corporate clients.

Urban Airship has not provided any specific plans for the funding, but Kveton said his company will use the funding to expand its sales, business development and international reach.

As for the investors, Salesforce and Verizon, the deal gives both companies a much bigger play in the mobile services market. With Urban Airship’s products, Salesforce could give its clients the ability to add mobile communications to its suite of sales and CRM products, and Verizon could use the partnership to enhance its own Android store and relationships with third-party developers. While it’s hard to say exactly who is a competitor to Urban Airship, there are many companies that offer help with in-app purchases like PapayaMobile and Tapjoy.