As Developers Seek More Interactivity, PubNub Raises $4.5M For Its In-App Messaging Solution

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BlackBerry Partners Fund Manager ATP Rebrands As Relay Ventures, Raises $150M

With the world of apps no longer in its early days, we are starting to see the emergence of a lot more services that give developers more sophisticated ways of interacting with users, and monetizing what they create. One of the more popular has been the rise of real-time messaging within apps; and today, one player in that space, PubNub, has picked up $4.5 million in funding to expand that line of business even further.

The Series A round was led by mobile-specialist VC Relay Ventures, itself just launched today as the rebranded, $150-million fund formerly known as ATP Capital (the firm that runs JLA Ventures, Clairmont Capital, and BlackBerry Partners Fund. There was also participation from TiE Angels.

PubNub, which was founded in August 2010, has seen more recently a surge in activity on its platform, which provides push-based, real-time messaging both for mobile apps as well as online — either from a publisher to many subscribers, or from subscribers to each other (acting as the ‘publishers’ in the S and P diagram above).

It currently has some 1,000 customers who use the service in apps for multiplayer games, social media services, e-commerce websites (where “live chat” has become almost a given) and in more enterprise environments around business collaboration.

And one area where it has seen particularly high usage is in events-based messaging. It has provided the platform for messaging around some of the biggies, such as the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars, and it recently passed a peak of 100,000 messages per second on its platform.

While PubNub is not a consumer-facing service in itself, you can see how it might potentially go up against those that are consumer-facing and offer a similar kind of real-time, collaborative messaging option. The one that comes to mind first is Twitter — which has long been touting how well it gets used around certain events, and has recently seen significantly more native integration on the iOS platform. And that’s not to mention other B2B companies doing the same thing as PubNub.

Given that competitive environment, it makes sense for a company like PubNub to potentially use its platform for more than just the messaging it currently provides. Indeed, you can see how the platform could be used for other kinds of interactive services, or even using the messaging as part of a wider interactive service involving, say, marketing. Interactivity is a key area for publishers looking for more ways of keeping users in their apps, and potentially making more revenue out of having them there.

One attractive thing about PubNub is that, with its small team of just 10 employees, it seems to have covered all bases early on in terms of developer environments. The company says it works with iOS, Android, JavaScript, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Node.JS, Python, and Ruby among others, and its cloud-based service works “from any point on earth.”