Benchmark Capital and Accel have invested $12 million in Israeli mobile startup Zlango. Zlango is an icon-based mobile messaging service. Users send short texts typed in representational images instead of typing out the messages (see below). It’s like a modern hieroglyphics. Users can also add images to the basic icons of the language, as Zlango has in their press release.
Zlango is a phone based application that has grown through close relationships with carriers, who see Zlango as a way to drive higher SMS usage or by a flat fee. Zlango is currently partnered with Pelephone in Israel, Orange & Cellcom in ESC, P4 in Poland, and bMobile in the Caribbean.
The funding comes close the Accel’s recent hiring of mobile expert Richard Wong, of early mobile browser company OpenWave. The relationship between the two firms seems to have recovered since Accel loosing a partner, Peter Fenton, to Benchmark Capital last April.