Veeker Buys ThumbJive, & Other Mobile Deals

Recently we’ve been noticing more friends using video messaging via cell phones — a three-second video message sent to party-goers trying to find a beach bonfire, or a midmorning clip snapped in a cubicle to say “I’m bored.” Of course mobile video messages aren’t half as popular as photo-messaging, which only less than 13% of U.S. cell phone subscribers use today according to M:Metrics. But now that carriers are readily offering multimedia messaging packages, and the latest phones are often embedding video cameras, its easier than ever for startups to start building services over a standardized mobile video sharing platform.
One of those startups is the stealthy Veeker, which we wrote about in July. Based in San Francisco, Veeker is building a mobile video-message sharing service targeting young users. We stopped by their South of Market offices last Friday and co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Rodger Raderman told us that Veeker recently acquired San Francisco-based mobile software development company ThumbJive, looking to bring in both the company’s mobile developers and mobile development technology.
The two startups wouldn’t disclose the terms of the deal, or even show me their application yet (even though they are showing it off to VCs, come on guys!) but the ThumbJive deal could be a good sign that the application will be pretty slick. ThumbJive helped build Tiny Pictures’ Radar application (which I am a total sucker for) as well as the Entourage mobile game for HBO, and applications for Digital Chocolate, among others.
ThumbJive founder and now VP of engineering at Veeker, Daniel Raynaud, said that his company was attractive to Veeker in part because of its technology that helps standardize the development of mobile applications on cell phones, including technology for video-capture and camera-capture applications. The other part was ThumbJive’s 8 local employees and 8 developers in Beijing. Veeker’s service isn’t likely to launch until at least October, but the company is busy trying to raise funding and has been making the rounds on Sand Hill Road.
It shouldn’t be too hard to get some cash in the valley, VC’s are readily funding mobile content sharing companies, and many startups are launching services. At DEMO, the startup convention that opens in San Diego today (which Liz will be attending this week) mobile content sharing companies are in full force. Among the list is Eyespot, which enables users to upload mobile video clips, Pixsense, which has a mobile messaging platform for carriers and Photocrank, a startup that creates captions and personalized messages for camera phone photos. Pixsense has raised an angel round of $1 million and is in the process of closing a series A, says Pixsense CEO Faraz Hoodbhoy.
The mobile startups at DEMO are also looking at mobile music sharing: startup Fonpods has the tagline turn your cell phone into an ipod (I guess they’re ignoring the iPhone rumors, or the recent Apple pod-trademarking), and online music company Mercora launched a mobile music service called M today (these guys are unbelievably trying to push the tagline ‘we beat Steve Jobs to the iPhone.’)
Then there’s the straight mobile messaging startups at DEMO, like mobile instant messaging company Pinger, which is backed by Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, mobile email company Flurry, and group text messaging company 3Jam. DEMO has almost more mobile than pure Internet companies this year.
Rightly so, cell phone users are starting to send more messages — text, photo and video — while media and entertainment companies are rushing to find the best way to sell stuff over cell phones. Interestingly Veeker won’t be at DEMO (do the organizers know something we don’t?). But Liz will be, and she’ll bring us her thoughts tomorrow on how the mobile players fare.