VC funding flows to Openet, Row 44

Two companies with wireless industry expertise, Openet and Row 44, are benefiting from late spring venture capital investments.

Openet, which provides mobile networks with software for policy control and charging, raised a fourth round of funding totaling $21 million, made up of $16 million in equity and $5 million in debt financing. Since its founding in 1999, Openet has raised a total of $55 million.

Leading the latest investment round in Openet was Japan's NS Solutions, a unit of Nippon steel. Other participants included existing investors Balderton Capital, Cross Atlantic and Kreos Capital.

Openet also announced the appointment of Margaret Rice-Jones to its board. She is the former CEO and executive director of Aircom International and a director of NewBay, Psion, Abacus Polar and Trivanti.

This most recent investment is a vote of confidence in Openet, whose ability to track user's mobile Internet activities and report them to their mobile network operator, has sometimes raised privacy concerns. The company's customers include AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Bell Mobility, Orange Group and Vodafone Netherlands.

A GigaOM article noted that policy manager software will be increasingly crucial as mobile operators implement more complex data plans, such as data sharing among devices and even perhaps sender-pays plans in which content providers underwrite the cost of carriage for deliver their products to mobile users.

Meanwhile, another beneficiary of venture capital investment this week was Row 44, a provider of in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment for airlines. The company garnered $45 million in a round led by in-flight content expert Advanced Inflight Alliance AG (AIA). PAR Capital Management, an investor in all of Row 44's institutional funding rounds, also participated in this latest round.

"This financing continues to strengthen Row 44's financial position, and provides us with resources to broaden our offering, expand our infrastructure and invest in the types of programs our customers will find valuable," said John LaValle, Row 44's CEO.

The company said it will use some of the investment capital to expand its global infrastructure in support of new European and trans-Asia airline customers, including recently announced partnerships with Icelandair and Russia's first private airline, Transaero.

- see this Openet release
- see this Row 44 release
- see this GigaOM article
- see this Reuters article
- see this cellular-news article

Related articles:
Venture capitalists show wireless the money
Wireless companies expected to launch IPOs in 2012 and beyond
Venture Capital trends in mobile in 2011
In-flight WiFi provider Row 44 raises $37M
Openet introduces data network congestion solution