Audio-Beacon Startup LISNR Raises $10 Million Series B Round Led By Intel Capital

Smart tone startup LISNR just raised a $10 million series B round led by Intel Capital to further advance the product as “a true protocol to connect devices across a number of different verticals,” LISNR co-founder and CEO Rodney Williams told TechCrunch.

LISNR’s technology is an audio-based platform for communicating data across devices. Any brand or device that wants to use it just needs to drop in a few lines of code into their pre-existing software. Right now, LISNR serves as a solution that uses high-frequency audio tones to enable people to unlock discounts and experiences. Down the road, LISNR wants to become the go-to technology for powering contactless payments, and connecting devices in the home and office.

“In the connected world, there are true limitations,” Williams said.  “In the connected world, are we really going to have every single device connected to the internet? It’s not going to work like that. Every device is not going to be bluetooth-enabled. Every device is not going to be connected to Wi-Fi. There’s already a limited amount of access points. How about making something connected like a refrigerator, but instead of putting a bluetooth chip or Wi-Fi chip in it, how about you put a speaker that omits a tone on different things that it needs? All of a sudden, that refrigerator is a connected device. To put a speaker is significantly less costly than a bluetooth or Wi-Fi chip. We can make devices connected using audio, which is a very cheap connector in comparison to other ways of connecting devices.”

LISNR sees its solution as being an ingredient — similar to how Intel’s entire business is based on powering computers and other tech-driven experiences, Williams said. He envisions LISNR’s technology eventually sitting inside of the Apple Pay app, Apple Watch and other products for things like contactless payments.  Already, LISNR has over 100 clients including Heineken, AT&T, the Dallas Cowboys, Budweiser and Live Nation.

Intel Capital’s investment in LISNR is the latest one that comes from its diversity fund. The $125 million fund, which Intel announced earlier this year, was created to invest money in startups with female or minority founders.

“LISNR’s innovative technology solutions work seamlessly across physical and digital spaces and provide compelling use cases around location-based and connected services,” Intel Capital Managing Director and VP Lisa Lambert said in a statement. “Not only does LISNR’s technology align with our focus on new devices and the Internet of Things initiatives, but its team represents the next generation of diverse and talented entrepreneurs that are solving the needs of a diverse public and shaping the innovations of tomorrow.”