4Info uses guanxi to get mobile search deal done
Most entrepreneurs we talked with this week said it would be crazy to go up against Google or Yahoo to try to become a mobile phone homepage destination for search, and so they're biting off little parts.
Here's our Mercury News story today about the handful of start-ups that want to serve you information via mobile phone.
Note that 4Info's Pankaj Shah is an exception. He wants to take on the big guys, by eventually offering such a mobile homepage for search. As we reported earlier, he is offering a text message service via 4Info (you message 44636) for things like sports scores and movie times. And he announced a deal Tuesday with Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper company, which calls for an investment by Gannett into the Palo Alto start-up and for Gannett's properties, including USA Today, to heavily promote the service.
How did Shah swing such a sweet deal? Why, with Silicon Valley connections of course. Chris McGill, who negotiated...
the deal for USA Today, used to work for Ellen Siminoff, an early angel investor in 4Info. The two had stayed in touch, and Siminoff suggested McGill get in touch with Shah. The rest, as they say, is history... (The terms of deal weren't disclosed, including the exact amount invested, but we used some inside knowledge and some math to estimate that the amount was at least $1 million, and probably more. Shah wouldn't comment).
Note that we also mention in the story a bunch of fresh start-ups that are offering free directory assistance voice calls. One we didn't mention San Diego company, 800ideas.com, because we were focused mainly on Silicon Valley start-ups. But it is worth noting that you can use it here, by dialing local versions of its 800 number. For San Francisco, you'd dial 1-800-SAN-FRANCISCO, or for San Jose, you'd ring 1-800-SAN-JOSE. But it's not as convenient as the nation-wide numbers offered by inFreeDA or Jingle, which we mentioned in the story.
Correction: In the Merc story we linked to above, we misspelled the name of a company that is doing much the same as 4Info, only is doing it for third-parties. The correct name is Synfonic.
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4Info, mobile search co., raises more cash to battle Google
4Info, the Palo Alto start-up that wants to take on Google in mobile search, has raised $9.5 million in a third round of venture capital financing. Return backers include Draper Fisher Jurvetson and U.S. Venture Partners. The comes on heels of a big p...
February 8, 2006 11:26 AM
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411SMS.COM in my opinion is still a better choice. Who is funding them?
//Most entrepreneurs we talked with this week said it would be crazy to go up against Google or Yahoo//
Sorry, you never talked to me.
Becoming a mobile phone homepage is not that challenging compare to desktop web and Google/Yahoo do not have the lockdown on mobile homepages -- the carriers do and most of them are getting into the mobile content business themselves.
Our small company did not enter the mobile space because we feel the mobile bandwidth cost is simply too expensive vs the cheap commodity content/features offered. Will I really ever have an urgent need to 'search the web' on a mobile device? No.
I was taken back by your brash assumption that entrepenuers walk around with the attitude that they simply cannot compete against Google/Yahoo. Innovation and change is not something you assume will not happen and WHEN it does happen, you may find your position to be similiar to the Wang loyalists. Entrepenuers are always out there working on new solutions that will be eventually be better than Google and Yahoo..don't make the mistake of having blind love for status quo in this rapidly ever-changing industry.
Remember there are an order of things in this tech world: those that cover tech, those that do tech and those that give tech something to write about and the inspiration to create new solutions. Nobody has a lock down on being the status quo.
First a correction about our service from 800ideas.com, the local number for Silicon Valley is 1-877-SAN-JOSE.
My perspective about this space is less about competing with Google and Yahoo, but rather how to provide a compelling and effective service for consumers and advertisers. It is about disrupting an innovation and not sustaining an existing product. The established companies will want to play with our services, since we have created results for local advertisers.
Bet on sports. Online sportsbook.