Location Sharing Startup Glympse Raises $12M As It Looks For More Device Integration

Glympse, a location sharing platform that has integrated its real-time mapping and tracking service into messaging apps, cars, wearables and other services, is today announcing a financing round of $12 million. CEO and co-founder Bryan Trussel tells me the company will use the money mainly to staff up the business to deal with the interest it’s been getting from outside companies for more deployments.

“We have enormous inbound interest in our platform and partnerships, and we need to make sure we scale to meet that demand without losing our focus,” he says.

The company already works with a list of recognisable names such as Verizon Messages, BlackBerry and Samsung, who use its tech in their messaging apps: BMW, MINI, Ford, GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Volvo, who have integrated Glympse into their in-car systems; watches from Pebble and Samsung; Garmin and NAVIGON in navigation systems; and Gogo inflight.

This latest Series C round of financing, which brings the total raised by Glympse to $20 million, includes some new strategic backers, including UMC Capital (the investing arm of the semiconductor maker UMC), Verizon Ventures and additional investors that want to remain unnamed for now. Also participating are existing investors Ignition Partners, Menlo Ventures and Naya Ventures.

“All of our investors are staying in, which is a testament to their belief in what we are doing and our goal to become the de facto location-sharing technology,” Trussel says. As part of the deal, UMC Capital VP Frank Lee is joining Glympse’s board.

Glympse was one of the early movers in trying to make location-based services more social. It launched its own mobile app — which lets users share and their location with contacts, who can then track that other user, for a set period of time — back in 2009 and bootstrapped it until 2011.

Although companies like Foursquare and Waze, the app bought by Google for close to $1 billion that offers other services like collaborative, real-time traffic data, have perhaps been in the social-location-mobile spotlight more than Glympse, the Seattle-based company — or its feature set, at least — appears to have caught the attention of at least one other major player. Apple introduced temporal location sharing into iMessage during WWDC earlier this month.

This move doesn’t seem to have surprised Trussel. He says Glympse had been prepared for it happening at some point, and had developed a kind of ecosystem approach as its defense.

“We have a stronger feature set. We have a larger breadth of devices, partners and endpoints. We have a more open platform for partners,” he tells me. “Until Apple owns the car, the majority of smartphones, navigation and wearables, etc., the company will still have limitations on its use case and integration on non-Apple devices.”

Indeed, what Glympse has been building out for the last couple of years has been not so much a single application as it has been a platform, complete with public APIs that it launched a year ago so that any app could integrate its location-sharing features. One the ways that Glympse monetises its service is through that API — those who have more than 300,000 monthly users of their apps pay a fee to use it.

But while that has helped Glympse with its ubiquity — the company tells me that there are now “tens of millions” of users of its services now across some 25 apps — Trussel says that Glympse needs to staff up to better cope with the larger companies that approach Glympse for deeper integrations. These heavier deals use the company’s private APIs, which Glympse had developed first and were the basis for the SDK that it launched last year.

Trussel, unsurprisingly, doesn’t specify the names of those larger companies, but his comments on how current and future business is looking provide a clue.

When I asked him about what devices are seeing the most Glympse usage today, he tells me that Glympse doesn’t disclose publicly the usage numbers, “but it is safe to say that mobile phones will always outnumber cars just due to the raw number of phones vs. autos.”

All the same, the company is pushing on the gas pedal where automotive is concerned. In addition to the companies it already works with, Trussel says, “We’ll be announcing more by year’s end, and you’ll also see some deeper integration scenarios that make Glympse even more useful in the car.”