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Funambol scores $12.5 million and AOL to fuel global expansion

Funambol just pulled in $12.5 million and a major OEM customer. The mobile world of open source took two steps closer to world domination.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

With a mobile revolution on the rise, it's significant that Funambol just notched two significant wins to shore up its position as the mobile open-source leader:

  1. $12.5 million in Series B investment from lead investor Nexit Ventures, as well as Castile Ventures, Walden International, and HIG Ventures. To date, Funambol has raised $25 million.
  2. Signed AOL as a customer so that the company can "synchronize mobile and online messages."

With 3.3 billion (with a "B") mobile phones in the world and only two percent accessing email from those 850 different phones, Funambol has a huge, untapped market ahead of it. The company's technology is already capable of reaching 1.5 billion of those devices, and its open-source nature helps it to get broader device coverage faster without the company having to invest in doing so. Its community of users (two million downloads and counting) does much of the work.

Fabrizio, Funambol's CEO and a good friend, has been very smart about how Funambol approaches the market. Fabrizio doesn't try to upsell his community. He doesn't sell to consumers or the enterprise, but rather charges (as he terms it) "people who don't like open source." In other words, service providers and Telcos that don't want to think about the risks associated with sharing code. So, they buy their way out of the obligations of open source and simply derive its benefits.

Funambol remains one of the more interesting open-source projects, one worth watching.