OneSignal Grabs $2M To Make Push Notifications Less Annoying

OneSignal, which makes it easy for developers to add personalized push notifications to their apps, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Rakuten Ventures, Y Combinator, and angel investors including Justin Kan and Zack Coelius, the founders of Twitch and Triggit respectively.

The platform, which is made by Lilomi, Inc., will use its latest funding to hire developers and acquire more users. OneSignal raised a previous seed round of $170,000 from Y Combinator (it’s an alum of the accelerator program’s summer 2011 cohort), SV Angel, and Start Fund.

OneSignal is also launching support for web push notifications using its Web Push API, which lets users to choose to receive personalized push notifications from web sites on their PCs, tablets, or smartphones.

TechCrunch first covered OneSignal in December when it was called GameThrive. Founder George Deglin says the platform rebranded because it is now targeting all app developers and marketers instead of just game makers.

The company says that more than 2,000 developers have signed up for OneSignal’s services so far. Its tools are used in 1,100 published mobile apps that reach 98 million end users.

Push notifications are important for increasing engagement, but developers face a catch-22. If they send one too many push messages, irritated users might turn off their app’s or delete it to stem the barrage of beeps and irrelevant messages on their smartphone or mobile screens.

Deglin says effective push messaging tools are often expensive, leaving developers to resort to cheaper and less effective options (which are in turn more annoying for end users). OneSignal hopes to offer an affordable alternative that still gives app creators more control by letting them tailor push notifications to specific sets of users based on things like what features they use the most often or their location.

“The user experience of an application that sends smartly personalized notifications is a dramatic improvement over one that sends impersonal and unwanted messages. We want to help all developers delight their users through the most effective notifications possible,” says Deglin. “We believe all developers should have an intuitive platform for sending effective push notifications to their customers, and we believe this should not cost them five or six figures a year.”

OneSignal differentiates from Amazon SNS and Parse Push by offering more features that make it quicker for developers to set up complex campaigns. Urban Airship and Appboy also have more powerful tools, but Deglin says that they are aimed at enterprise clients who can afford their higher pricetags.

OneSignal’s first-party plug-ins aim to make it relatively simple and fast for developers to add its tools to their apps. They are currently compatible with native iOS, native Android, Amazon Fire, Windows Phone, Corona SDK, Unity 3D, Adobe Air, Marmalade, Cocos2d­x, and Phonegap. More platforms and frameworks will be added soon.