Agora, a platform that enables developers to add voice and video features to their applications, announced that it has added an extra $30 million to the $20 million series B round it announced way back in 2015. The extra funding tranche comes from existing investors, including IDG, SIG China, Morningside Group, GGV, and Shunwei. The series B extension was actually completed in mid-2017 but was only announced this week.
Founded out of Santa Clara in 2014, Agora offers a software development kit (SDK) that makes it easy for any company or developer to integrate voice and video calls into their own services, saving them from the expensive and laborious process of building the back-end infrastructure themselves. Last year, the company announced a new platform to enable mobile game developers to add real-time voice chat to their creations. Agora also offers a broadcasting SDK so companies can build livestreaming features into their apps.
This round takes Agora’s total funding to $55 million, including a $5 million series A round, and with its latest cash infusion the company is doubling down on global expansion efforts.
Agora’s platform is already available globally, but its main focus so far has been targeting customers in the U.S. and China. It does count some big-name clients in other markets too, such as Indian WhatsApp rival Hike Messenger. But these are essentially outliers — Agora has chiefly focused on growth in the two aforementioned countries. Moving forward, the company will look to scale its product by employing localized strategies to acquire customers in many more markets, with India and Japan next on Agora’s radar and a European expansion in the cards for later this year.
Agora claims a developer community of 50,000, and it now has 200 employees and 200 datacenters globally to ensure reduced latency between end-users.
“Within the last decade, there’s been a paradigm shift in the way people communicate and engage with others across the globe,” noted Agora founder and CEO Tony Zhao. “More and more businesses are realizing that their users and customers desire real-time interaction and have started deploying in-app voice and video calling in droves. With the growth of live broadcasting and video streaming on web and mobile, there’s huge demand for low latency audio and video solutions across the board, so we see an enormous opportunity to deliver on this growing need.”
Agora nestles into a busy space that includes the likes of publicly traded Twilio, along with others in the communications SDK space, like MessageBird and SendBird, which are slightly different propositions. But all these companies serve the same overarching purpose: to save companies from having to build their own streaming and communications back-end.
Even major companies such as Uber, which rely on in-app messaging, use third-party platforms because they need a reliable infrastructure that would be too resource-intensive to build and manage themselves. Indeed, Chinese tech titan Xiaomi announced last year that it would be using Agora to power voice-calling in its new Mi AI smart speaker.
“Our customers fully understand the huge business value of engaging with their customers in real time,” added Agora’s chief revenue officer, Reggie Yativ. “We continue to empower developers and product owners from all around the world to place communications at the core of every application. Our aim is to ensure a real quality of experience for our customers and actively grow our team and revenue.”