Jibe snags $8.3M to expand its cloud-based RCS platform

Jibe Mobile closed an $8.3 million financing round--with strategic investments from Vodafone Ventures, Tokyo-based game creator MTI and other unnamed investors--which the company will apply to further developing its cloud-based open technology platform leveraging Rich Communication Services (RCS) technologies.

"The combination of these two strategic investors (Vodafone and MTI) really is our story, which is bridging the gap between developers and mobile carriers. This investment validates our vision, which is that in the future all applications are going to have some form of connectivity and 'real-timeness' to them," Amir Sarhangi, CEO and a co-founder of Jibe, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

"Developers need an easy way to enable these capabilities inside their application, and they'll be able to do that using Jibe," he said, explaining that the company's APIs are designed to help developers rapidly incorporate real-time rich communications, including voice, video and low-latency data into mobile apps.

The chart above explains how Jibe's cloud-based RCS platform works.

The Silicon Valley company was founded in 2006 and had been self funded until this recent financing round. Jibe has been heavily involved in the GSMA's joyn initiative and was a key contributor to the first RCS-e specification. "We were the company that worked with Vodafone to write the initial spec for RCS-e," said Sarhangi.

Jibe, which uses the shorthand moniker "joyn+RCS5" to describe capabilities available via RCS-e and the more full-featured RCS 5, provides a white-label joyn client called Jibe ON. The company's Private Cloud solution enables operators to deliver RCS services to their customers via Jibe's cloud-based network. "If a carrier wants to launch RCS, we can launch it for them through our cloud," said Sarhangi. "Our cloud from a carrier's perspective almost looks like an IMS system."

Jibe's joynNet function enables joyn service to function on a global scale as it rolls out to individual networks. That scalability is necessary for making joyn competitive against over-the-top (OTT) services as well as making it attractive to application developers and potential OTT partners. "If a carrier wants to launch service globally without waiting for other carriers to launch for interoperability, if they leverage joynNet they can do that using our cloud inter-operating with their IMS backend," said Sarhangi.

The company's App-to-App platform is designed to provide secure, controlled access to an operator's IMS network for app developers, while Jibe's Software Development Kit (SDK) enables developers and operators to differentiate RCS services. Sarhangi noted that joyn is limited mainly to video and chat applications at this point, and it is not widely open to developers, though that is the ultimate goal.

"We are working with carriers to open that experience up, said Sarhangi. "Developers don't have to worry about doing deals with the carriers. They don't have to worry about integration with any carrier. All they have to worry about is using our SDK and our capabilities to work everywhere, globally, from day one, regardless of where joyn has launched," he said. "We do that through our cloud and the fact that we work directly with carriers."

Sarhangi predicted RCS will eventually replace SMS, at which point developers will be able to turn to Jibe to create and deliver messaging-based offerings rather than going to carriers or aggregators such as Urban Airship.

Jibe's emerging revenue model will be based on traditional licensing as well as software-as-a-service (SaaS) fees for operators that leverage the company's cloud services.

"From a developer perspective, today it's all free," said Sarhangi. "We really will only start charging developers once we see that they are successful. So once they are making money or passing a certain threshold for concurrent number of users on our platform, that's when they'll start paying us for usage of our cloud, just as they would Amazon [(NASDAQ:AMZN)] or someone else in the cloud space."

Operators that have launched joyn-branded services include Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone and MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), which broke ranks with the Europeans by launching with the more-advanced RCS 5 technology rather than RCS-e.

For more:
- see this Jibe release
- see this telecoms.com article
- see this TechCrunch article

Related articles:
T-Mobile CMO hints at video content plans, video chat service
MetroPCS, T-Mobile disagree on need for RCS
MetroPCS launches RCS under GSMA's joyn brand
Interop pushing carriers to consider non-IMS RCS
Vodafone Spain unveils budget brand to push back against rivals
Analyst: RCS will generate 80B messages annually by 2017