Rhode Island Backs Mobile Website Builder MoFuse
With the number of Web-capable mobile phones sold every year far exceeding sales of desktop and laptop computers, more and more online publishers are rushing to create versions of their sites that look good on the small screens of mobile devices. At Providence, RI-based MoFuse, that’s the specialty of the house: the company builds streamlined versions of blogs and websites that are easy to read on a Blackberry, iPhone, Treo, or any other Internet-ready smartphone. And today the company got a boost from a venture capital fund backed by the state of Rhode Island.
The Providence-based Slater Technology Fund, which is financed by the Rhode Island General Assembly, announced that it has provided seed capital to MoFuse, which was founded in 2007 and already produces mobile versions of 12,000 websites. The company says that the sites it has “mobilized,” including Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, PoliticalWire, Harvard Business Publishing, and Doc Searls, get over a million page views per month in aggregate.
The amount of the seed funding round wasn’t disclosed, but the Slater fund doles out a total of about $3 million annually to new businesses originating with entrepreneurs, academic institutions, or government labs based in the state. The fund’s investments, which only go to companies that have pledged keep their headquarters in Rhode Island, are aimed at creating high-wage jobs in the Ocean State.
Slater managing director Thorne Sparkman said in a statement that MoFuse should be set to grow exponentially as Web browsing via mobile devices spreads. “MoFuse is building a talent and experience base that will be tough to overtake,” Sparkman said. “We see this as a tremendous opportunity to enable a large, global publishing population to integrate with the mobile channel.”
MoFuse has regional competition in the form of companies like Waltham, MA-based Quattro Wireless, which not only produces mobile versions of websites owned by major companies and media organizations such as Univision and NFL.com, but includes those sites in a mobile advertising network that brings the website publishers additional revenue. But by focusing on the blogosphere, MoFuse may be able to carve out a niche on the smaller end of the publishing spectrum.