Microsoft .NET for Mobile Company Xamarin Gets $12 Million In Series A Funding

Xamarin, makers of cross-platform frameworks for building mobile applications, today announced a $12 million round of funding from Charles River Ventures, Ignition Partners and Floodgate. This is the first round of funding for Xamarin, which develops Mono, an open source project that brings Microsoft’s .NET development framework to non-Microsoft operating systems like Android, iOS and Linux. The company also made headlines when it used a tool called Sharpen to translate all of Android 4.0’s Java code into C# and open sourced the whole thing as XobotOS.

The company was founded in May last year by Miguel de Icaza and the rest of the Mono team. Mono was originally developed at de Icaza’s previous company Ximian, which was acquired by Novell in 2003. Novell continued funding the development of Mono after the acquisition. But in December 2010 Attachmate acquired Novell. In May Novell laid off the entire Mono team. Just two weeks later de Icaza announced Xamarin.

Although Mono is free and open source, Xamarin makes money by selling enterprise licenses and support for MonoTouch (an implementation of .NET for iOS) and Mono for Android. In July 2011 Novell granted Xamarin a perpetual license for both products, which let Xamarin avoid having to rebuild the products from scratch.

Enabling developers to use .NET for mobile application development means they can re-use code from other projects, including desktop and server side applications. For a Microsoft-centric development shop this could be a huge boon if it saves developers the time of having to port code to another language like Java (for Android), Objective-C (for iOS) or JavaScript (for HTML5). That’s proven to be big business: the company claims to have over 7,500 paying customers. The license from Novell and its large customer base has enabled Xamarin to avoid having to take any outside funding until now.

Xamarin competes indirectly with companies like Appcelerator, Motoroloa’s RhoMobile and Adobe which acquired Nitobi, the company behind PhoneGap (now called Apache Cordova).