In 2009, Narendra Rocherolle of 83 Degrees and Webshots and Josh Felser of Spinner, Crackle, and Freestyle Capital founded The Start Project, an accelerator that would rely on the help of a group of high-profile Silicon Valley advisors and entrepreneurs to help bring new ideas to market. Not long after, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, and former Google exec and Lowercase Capital founder Chris Sacca signed on to the project as advisors.
The Start Project's first incubation was Message Bus, a cloud-native application service that aims to power and ensure the delivery of communications and messaging across email and mobile channels. In March 2011, the company raised $3 million in Series A financing led by True Ventures, with participation from The Start Project's seed partner, Polaris Ventures - which provided the company with its $275K of seed funding back in 2010.
Today, True Ventures re-upped its investment in Message Bus, as part of an $11 million series B financing. The new round, announced this morning, was led by North Bridge Venture Partners and included participation from True, Ignition Partners, James Lindenbaum, Tim Young and Jesse Robbins.
Along with Rocherolle, Message Bus was co-founded by Jeremy LaTrasse, a member of Twitter's founding team and its long-time director of operations. LaTrasse told TechCrunch of the startup's mission: “The same way that cloud computing is often equated with Amazon Web Services and cloud storage is equated to Dropbox or Box, we intend to do the same for cloud messaging.”
So, in short, Message Bus is building native cloud technology that reduces the cost of building and maintaining enterprise messaging applications while increasing customer engagement through improved deliverability.
Of the market opportunity, North Bridge Partner Paul Santinelli said that, because Message Bus is designed for anyone managing a complex and costly infrastructure or for those experiencing challenges with secure message delivery, the application for its tech at an enterprise level is considerable. While the “multibillion-dollar markets for email, mobile and social messaging” are already littered with players, he believes that Message Bus has the opportunity to take on the established companies in a space that is “reliant on outdated technology,” by using a service that is purpose-built for the cloud and runs in the cloud.
Messaging no doubt will become increasingly important as more data integrates into apps, and users need a good way to access that data - as do developers (along with managing it). “Message bus” technology naturally taps into a big opportunity, as the startup seems to be tapping into a hot trend - beyond just the cheerleading of investors. Alex wrote about a YC startup that was acquired by Rackspace in August that is playing in the same space, and Tibco, which has made a fortune with its BUS tech, sees messaging as the way to bring multiple apps into one UI.
As to Message Bus, in a blog post this morning, LaTrasse elaborated on the reasons behind the startup's Series B raise and spoke more in depth on what exactly Message Bus has been up to over the past year:
Message Bus is replacing the old school approach where senders simply hope a message was received to a data driven approach where we actively manage the relationship between senders and recipients. With email, your reputation is only as good as the last message you have sent, and in the highly competitive and often abusive/adversarial relationship between senders and recipients, it is very easy to make mistakes where you are suddenly viewed as a bad sender. And surprisingly, the data is there – if you as a sender choose to collect and act upon it. Further, good actors should be rewarded just as bad actors are punished.
In addition, our architecture and modal of delivery is different from anyone in the market – including cloud vendors, or more appropriately, the cloud-washed vendors in the market today. When you look at the infrastructure powering messaging, there's a massive install base of old school technology that's not purpose-built for the cloud, primed for replacement. The opportunity spans enterprises, email service providers, and a variety of application platforms as all face the same hurdles: large CAPEX, brittle technology, expensive to build and operate, and capacity constrained.