“What? You’re raising $18 million from Accel and Google Ventures and you can’t even tell me what it is?” I ask Tom Moss, who brokered carrier and handset maker relationships for Google Android when the OS originally launched.
“You don’t look very happy,” he laughed.
He and Mike Chan, who was also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel Partners, are working on some kind of stealth company called Nextbit.
They can’t really say anything about the product, except that it might launch this year and that they’ve got a big glug of funding from top firms that they want to use to hire engineers. With the round, they’re getting two heavyweight mobile-focused VCs in Android founder Rich Miner of Google Ventures and Accel’s Rich Wong on their board. Wong backed Moss’ last company, 3LM, which was acquired by Motorola Mobility (before Motorola was bought by Google). So the team has a track record.
“A lot of people assume core mobile technology is done because it’s so much better than it was in 2010,” Moss said. “But you could have said the same thing about the Apple IIe and look at where we are today. Mobile still has a long way to go.”
Chan basically had some kind of idea about how to change the core user experience of a mobile OS that really resonated with Moss. (No, they can’t share what it is, but it’s not a fork of the Android OS and it doesn’t compete with any of the many other Android-related companies that Moss invests in or advises like CyanogenMod or Anfacto.)
Why are they raising so much money for a company that’s pre-product and pre-revenue?
Moss and Chan said there are strategic reasons for staying in stealth mode. They’re worried that other much bigger competitors with distribution and marketing channels might elbow in and copy their idea.
Plus, the last time they sold a company, they were stealth right until the end. It turns out that 3LM, the company Moss sold to Motorola Mobility, had been working on a way to make Android more enterprise-friendly with property security features.
“We are actually working on something really hard,” said Chan, who led power management for the Android OS in its early days. “We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have the stress of raising money while we’re building it.”