Music and broadcast media discovery app developer Shazam announced that it has raised $32 million in its most recent round of funding.
Shazam builds an application that gives iPhone and other mobile device owners a way to discover new content by listening to music or television broadcasts. The application “listens” to the sounds of the music or a television broadcast after a user “Shazams” it, or activates the app. It then checks that sound file against a database on a remote server to see if there is additional content to send over to the user.
The extra content can range from coupons for cheaper clothes and products if the user “Shazams” a television advertisement, or the lyrics to a song if the app is used while listening to a song. There are usually visual cues on a television broadcast that tell a user to “Shazam Now,” because mobile device owners probably wouldn’t know to use the application if they weren’t told to do so, said Shazam chief executive officer Andrew Fisher.
While the music version of Shazam has been around for a while, the broadcast version is relatively new. Shazam launched the broadcast part of its business around a year ago and partners with a number of companies to generate revenue from those deals. Right now, the company works with companies like Old Navy, American Express and Proctor & Gamble and secures revenue through deals. Eventually the company will create a revenue-sharing system that will allow it to take a slice of the revenue from a single television advertisement impression detected when Shazam is used.
The application is pretty accurate at picking up sounds. In a home environment, the app will pick up the sound and fetch additional content 100 percent of the time. But in crowded environments like a bar or a sports game, the app’s ability begins to degrade because of the excess noise. The application is still pretty accurate because it is being built for “real-world environments,” Fisher said.
The latest funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Institutional Venture Partners. The funds will be used to improve the company’s infrastructure, which will have to be retooled to account for increased growth. Shazam expects to invest money in infrastructure that will work well beyond 250 million users, which might require a completely different architecture than what the company uses right now, Fisher said. By expanding into television broadcast content discovery, Fisher said he hopes Shazam can reach a valuation of around $1 billion in two years.
Shazam has more than 150 million users and adds around 1 million new users every week, Fisher said. That’s largely because Shazam is installed in handsets like those produced by Nokia and works on multiple operating systems, he said. Around 45 million Shazam users are located in the United States. The application should have more than 250 million users in around 2 years, Fisher said.
The U.K.-based company launched in 2001 and has around 100 employees spread across offices in the United Kingdom, Palo Alto, Calif., New York, and Los Angeles. The application, which is free, is available on the iPhone App Store and works on the iPhone, Android devices, BlackBerry devices, Windows Phone 7 devices and phones running Nokia’s Symbian mobile operating system.
The company has raised more than $62 million to date across several rounds of funding and a seed funding round. The company did not disclose how much money it raised in one of its funding rounds.