Oneforty Opens Twitter App Store for Business, Details Funding from Boston, Seattle, and Bay Area Investors

1/14/10Follow @wroush

Starting today, developers of Twitter applications who list their apps at oneforty, the burgeoning Twitter app directory based in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, can also sell their apps directly to oneforty visitors. That makes oneforty into the first true Twitter app store—a development that could help stimulate the growth of a substantial marketplace for applications related to real-time messaging, just as the iTunes App Store, the Android Marketplace, and other stores have created a huge new economy of mobile apps.

Along with its e-commerce launch, oneforty announced details of its recent $1.85 million Series A round, which closed just three days ago. Xconomy readers will be familiar with several of the investors on oneforty’s list, including Boston’s Flybridge Capital Partners and Seattle-based tech entrepreneur and investor Andy Sack (an Xconomist).

It’s high time for a central marketplace for software that builds on Twitter, says Laura Fitton, oneforty’s founder and CEO. (San Francisco-based Twitter, in case you’ve been hiding in a cave since 2006, allows users to broadcast 140-character text messages to anyone who signs up to receive them; posting Twitter updates or “tweets” and watching others’ tweets roll in has become a constant preoccupation for millions of Internet users.) “There were really great Twitter apps, such as Smittter, that no one has heard of now because the developers couldn’t sustain them,” Fitton says. “They couldn’t make any money, because there was no marketplace or business model, so they withered on the vine.”

As a simple directory, launched last September, oneforty has already helped direct attention to Twitter apps that might otherwise have gone by the wayside. But as a store, Fitton predicts, it will help stimulate many more developers to create paid apps.

Laura Fitton“The iTunes App Store proved that people would pay a buck or two for a mobile application. We are very interested to see how that will play out” in the area of real-time messaging, says Fitton, who is the co-author of Twitter for Dummies and is known to Twitter users as @pistachio. “Last December [2008], when I had the idea for oneforty, Twitterific was the only Twitter app I knew of that was for sale. Now there are almost 250 out there at some price point.”

On top of the news about its Twitter app marketplace, the five-employee company (which Bob profiled in two parts back in October) revealed full details of its recent fundraising activities for the first time. The company raised its seed funding, a $230,000 debt round provided by local angel investors, last June, barely two weeks after Fitton joined last summer’s inaugural Boston session of the Boulder, CO-based TechStars startup school. Fitton now says oneforty has augmented its seed funding with a $1.85 million Series A venture round that closed on January 11.

Flybridge put in $1.25 million, and general partner Jeff Bussgang has joined oneforty’s board of directors. (Bussgang has a blog post today at PE Hub on why he’s a “big believer” in the real-time Web.) The remaining $600,000 came from San Francisco-based Javelin Venture Partners and a group of individual investors. The angels include Dave McClure, a PayPal alum and prominent Silicon Valley startup advisor and blogger who runs the FF Angel seed-stage fund for San Francisco-based Founders Fund; Roger Ehrenberg, a former hedge fund manager for Deutsche Bank; Lee Hower, a principal at Point Judith Capital in Providence, RI; and Andy Sack, the co-leader of Seattle-based startup fund Founder’s Co-op, who was recently tapped to head TechStars’ first Seattle session.

Fitton calls the Series A funding a “pre-emptive” round—meaning the company could have gone on courting investors, but had already found the ones it wanted. “One question startups always wonder about is ‘How can you tell if a VC is interested?’ but in our case, it was clear from the beginning that Flybridge was sincere,” Fitton says. “We were intending to do this raise in March, and we thought, ‘Let’s take our time, and do a road show,’ but they just came in with such a great track record, some compelling and founder-friendly terms, and such a clear understanding of what we were looking to achieve, that it was a great match.”

On the angel side, Fitton says she’s especially excited to have the chance to work with Sack, who was oneforty’s TechStars mentor last summer, and McClure. “Having Dave McClure join is just phenomenal—he has been so … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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