Will Change.org’s new funding compromise its mission?

Petition website Change.org has raised a $25 million Series C round in a rather unusual way. Instead of finding institutional investment firms, Change.org’s new funding comes from socially conscious individuals (and a few firms with social investment mandates): Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Evan Williams, Jeff Weiner, Jerry Yang and others. The list is a veritable who’s-who in tech.

Change.org makes money through sponsored recommendations, where petition creators can pay to put their petitions in front of other Change.org users with similar interests.

With the additional capital, Change.org will expand its mobile, political, and global efforts (Yeap, they’re pioneering GoMoPo. Hey, it’s better than AOL’s HoMo). The company plans to make it easier for people to create and sign petitions from their phones, as well as verify politicians and organizations on the app so these entities can converse directly with petitioners. And although Change.org already has employees in twenty countries, it wants to further expand the app’s tools and languages.

But the hefty bundle of new cash raises some questions for the company. Will Change.org’s humanitarian mission — “to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see” — be compromised by its investors’ need for an exit?

Not surprisingly, Change.org COO Jen Dulski says no way. She had a few solid points to back herself up. The investors joining Change.org’s round have agreed to an unusual exit route. Down the line, the company can choose to return their money via private secondary equity offering or stock repurchasing, instead of an acquisition or IPO. That’s one big benefit to raising funding from socially conscious investors who are putting in their own cash, instead of a VC firm with LPs who need a big return.

Secondly, Dulski pointed out that Change.org is a certified benefit corporation. There’s no legal requirement to go along with that, but in order to keep its benefit corp status Change.org needs to apply to renew it every year. “The process is very rigorous,” Dulski says. “It makes sure you treat your staff in a certain way, you take care of the environment, that you’re transparent.” Change.org is also in the process of legally incorporating as a benefit corporation, which will add even more onerous standards to live by.

Survey: phones still best for customer service

Social media and the Internet have made customer service issues more acute; and holistic, omni-channel support is becoming the norm. However, customers are least satisfied with their service interactions through social media in particular.

Zendesk’s benchmark report released today shows that customers are most often satisfied with phone-based service (at 91%), followed by online chat support (at 85%)—and least satisfied with their service experience through the social channels of Twitter (81%) and Facebook (74%).  These latter channels are of course newer and, in many enterprises, stilled handled by marketing rather than service departments. They are also more often public and seldom as instantaneous as phone and chat support. But the newer, more public Twitter scores almost as well as email (82%), which, though older and more private, may be the slowest and most formulaic of the major service channels.

My guess is that a combination of factors offset the different channels. The telephone is the most human and can provide the quickest service response, though we all know that phone wait times, transfers and ill-prepared or difficult-to-understand representatives can be frustrating. Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, may be the easiest for customers to access at the height of pique or when a customer feels the need to lash out publicly in order to get a response.

Service satisfaction varies by industry. The more business-oriented and higher price-point sectors that have reason for service interactions other than problem resolution or cancellations (IT services, government and nonprofit and education all at 95%) than consumer-oriented sectors without positive or neutral reasons for interaction (social media, entertainment and gaming, and financial services from 67% to 76%).

Service satisfaction also varies by country. With Canada and Australia scoring over 90%, but China and the United Arab Emirates below 60%. These trends tend to persist and Zendesk has found them to be correlated with the satisfaction of service center employees within different countries as well. Further, these findings somewhat parallel the results of ‘happiness’ surveys that are sometimes conducted with global citizenries. Denmark is not only reliably among the top five countries in in Zendesk’s benchmark, but it has also ranked as the happiest nation worldwide.

Is it thus a coincidence that the customer service firm Zendesk was started by three Danes? Perhaps not. And maybe that is the takeaway from their benchmark. A customer service prayer may be for the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can—and the wisdom to know the difference.

The average US subscriber owns 1.57 mobile devices

Once you subtract all of the M2M connections and factor out all of the people who don’t own mobile devices, the number of devices owned by the typical U.S. wireless user comes to one-and-a-half per person.

Telefónica, Telenor go after developers in tandem

The Wholesale Application Community’s dream of a single pool of APIs shared among all global carriers may have died, but Telefónica may be trying to revive it. It’s recruited fellow mega-operator Telenor into its BlueVia developer platform. Together they reach 400 million global subscribers.

Meet the world’s top 20 mobile carriers: Asia on the rise

This year’s top 20 in terms of total connections looks very much like last years, according to Wireless Intelligence. There’s, however, evidence of a subtle shift in the rankings in favor of Asian operators versus Western operators.