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If you thought instant messaging technologies were pretty much controlled by big incumbent players like AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, check out all the money flowing to some IM-related start-ups recently.
Take OZ Communications, a company that was dissolved last year after eating through about $25 million in backing. It’s now back in a second reincarnation — with help from Silicon Valley money. Yesterday OZ said it received $27.3 million from local firm VantagePoint Venture Partners. OZ, based in Montreal, is developing standards-based mobile instant messaging products for handset vendors and mobile operators around the world.
Much of the other new IM action is bubbling up in Silicon Valley. Last month, investors pumped $16 million into FaceTime Communications, a start-up in Foster City, that helps companies implement IM systems with controls to minimize network secruity risks and avoid running afoul of regulatory or corporate guidelines. JK&B Capital led the round, with previous investors BA Venture Partners, Sutter Hill ventures and TH Lee Putnam Ventures participating.
Also last month, Five Across, a Palo Alto IM start-up formed last year scored $2 million. Five Across supplies instant messaging software for business workgroups, and the first round of VC money came from Granite Ventures and Adobe ventures, the venture arm of Adobe Systems. For a one-time fee of $29, its product includes features like chat blogs, polls, visual meeting scheduling and the ability to forward alerts to e-mails and cell phones.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
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