Swisscom invests $1.8 million in 'social business card' startup Poken

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Swisscom Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Swisscom (Switzerland’s leading telecom operator), is making a strategic investment in Poken. Swisscom is participating in a $1.8 million round, and will be represented on Poken’s Board of Directors by Dominique Mégret, who heads the investment subsidiary.

In a statement, Megret says Poken is “at the nexus of the mobile and events spheres, with unique capabilities relating to NFC, RFID and Social Networking” and that it foresees huge growth for the fledgling company.

Poken bills itself as a ‘social business card’. The company essentially aims to bridge real world and online interactions through social networks. Its products cater mainly to the events and conferences industry, but the company also offer a broader consumer-facing online experience on Poken.com.

Poken manufactures small devices, which can be filled with data like your Facebook and LinkedIn profile information. Two poken palms (or ‘high4′s) can connect simply by being held next to each other, offering a way for people to exchange contact information digitally. In other words: it’s one way to avoid the need to exchange paper business cards.

Here’s how it works: Poken devices can exchange an encrypted code when the palms touch each other. They use a proprietary, low-energy RF-based technology that is both wireless and – according to Poken – completely secure. Ok then.

The startup was founded in December 2007 and headquartered in Lausanne (Switzerland). Poken is now active in over 50 countries worldwide.

According to the press release, the company’s new pokenEVENT service is being used by juggernauts like Adobe, BMW, IBM and Microsoft to host networking events.

The company has two major competitors, both based in Europe: My Name Is E and GetYoo.

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