Mobile Startups Kinvey and Urban Airship Team Up, Share Stories

12/8/11Follow @gthuang

This is a tale of two CEOs whose reputations precede them. It is a short tale.

The news today is that Cambridge, MA-based Kinvey and Portland, OR-based Urban Airship have formed a technology partnership involving mobile applications. Basically, Kinvey will handle the data back-end for mobile app developers whose apps reach end users through “push notifications” powered by Urban Airship; push notifications are typically marketing or news messages sent by publishers over a data network. Financial terms of the partnership weren’t given.

But this story isn’t really about financials. These are two startups, separated by 3,000 miles, and each has a personal flair. Last year, Urban Airship CEO and co-founder Scott Kveton told me about how his company first got off the ground. It was June 2009, Urban Airship had barely started, and Kveton and his team couldn’t afford to attend the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Instead, they bought $1,500 worth of donuts and camped outside the Moscone Center, chatting up (and feeding) hundreds of developers waiting in line about their mobile messaging needs.

Fast forward, and today Urban Airship’s thousands of customers include ESPN, Fox, LivingSocial, Warner Bros., and the White House. The company has raised more than $20 million, and its investors include Foundry Group, True Ventures, Founder’s Co-op, Intel Capital, Salesforce.com, and Verizon.

Kinvey’s back-story is no less dramatic. The founding team moved to Boston from Austin, TX, and graduated with the most recent class of TechStars Boston. Last July, when founder and CEO Sravish Sridhar and chief technology officer Morgan Bickle were stuck underground for two hours on the Red Line subway, they spent their time chatting up commuters about their mobile-app needs.

Sridhar’s startup has since raised a $2 million seed round from Atlas Venture, Avalon Ventures, and numerous angel investors. Kinvey is building its business around providing cloud-based back-end services like storing and managing app data, handling security and analytics, and enabling purchases. We’ll be watching to see how much its partnerships, like the one with Urban Airship, help boost its profile among developers and publishers.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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