Hiya raises $18M in series A funding to fight robocalls

Hiya is looking to expand its robocall-fighting efforts internationally.

Hiya snared $18 in a series A funding round to pursue its business of helping carriers defend their customers from robocalls and other unwanted come-ons.

The Whitepages spinoff launched a cloud-based offering in August 2016 that integrates with wireless and wireline networks, enabling service providers to identify where calls originate and block them before they reach end users. The service complements Hiya’s downloadable caller ID app, which is designed to automatically identify the person or business calling or texting users and to enable customers to block unwanted calls.

The startup, which claims to analyze more than 3.5 billion calls per month, boasts high-profile partners including AT&T, Samsung, T-Mobile and ZTE. This morning it announced the funding round led by Balderton Capital, a European early-stage investor, with participation from Nautilus Venture Partners and Lumia Capital.

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“As the telecom industry becomes more competitive, leading wireless carriers and smartphone OEMs are adjusting by innovating faster than ever before—and Hiya is helping them,” CEO Alex Algard said in a press release. “We are now in hyper-growth mode, and this investment will help sustain our momentum. But we are also benefiting from uniquely relevant strategic and operational know-how for mobile.”

Both wireless and wireline operators in the United States have faced increased pressure from federal regulators to help their customers avoid spam calls, robocalls and other unwanted pitches. The FCC voted earlier this year to move forward with new rules designed to prevent spammers from placing unwanted robocalls. Among other elements, the proposed rules would also allow carriers to continue to block calls upon the request of the subscriber to an originating number, like IRS lines not used for outbound calls.

First Orion, which maintains a flagship app called PrivacyStar for both service providers and end users, released a study a year ago claiming more than 4% of U.S. mobile users said they had given away credit card information to a scammer on their phones, twice as many as reported doing so last year.

Both Hiya and First Orion maintain their own databases, enabling them to identify callers based on reports from previous users in an effort to block them.