Open Garden, the company behind the popular FireChat messaging app, today announced its $10.8 million Series A funding round led by August Capital. Other investors include Firebolt Ventures, Future Perfect Ventures, Kima Ventures, Tseung Kwan Ventures and Sherpalo. Including this round, Open Garden has now raised $12.8 million.
The company recently found its footing with the launch of FireChat, an anonymous messaging app that can use mesh networking to connect you to nearby users, even when there is no other connectivity available. When OpenGarden first launched at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in 2012, the company’s focus was on building mesh networking apps that would allow smartphone users to share their connectivity with others. While that was a technically impressive feat, it wasn’t until the company launched FireChat earlier this year that it had a hit on its hand.
With this new round of funding, the company plans to accelerate the growth of FireChat and build partnerships with mobile app developers in key growth markets like India, Latin America and Asia. While Open Garden hasn’t officially launched an API for its networking technology yet, the company previously told me that it hopes other apps will use its technology in the long run — and the more apps use it, the better its offline coverage will get.
“The writing is on the wall. Peer-to-peer networking is the future of the mobile Internet,” said Micha Benoliel, CEO and cofounder of Open Garden, in today’s announcement. “FireChat’s popularity is an early indicator of an impending massive disruption. People and communities around the world now understand that their phone and a free app is all they need to create ‘their own Internet,’ independently of existing infrastructures and powers.”
The company also today announced an update to FireChat that brings photo sharing and the ability to follow other users.