Kinvey, Out to Kick Butt and Build Mobile Backends, Lands $5M in VC

7/11/12Follow @gthuang

Let’s just get the backend jokes out of the way, shall we?

Kinvey is building big, beautiful backends for mobile developers. Kinvey puts the “BaaS” (backend as a service) in “Badass.” Kinvey will be doing a Sir Mix-a-Lot cover called “Baby Got BaaS.” (Can you believe that song is 20 years old? OK, I can.)

What these jokes don’t necessarily convey—pun intended—is that Cambridge, MA-based Kinvey is solving a real problem, and a difficult one at that. If you casually follow Boston-area tech news, you might have gathered that Kinvey works on mobile software for app developers, and it involves data and infrastructure, but it sounds pretty technical.

Well, today Kinvey has just closed $5 million in Series A funding from Avalon Ventures and Atlas Venture. The TechStars Boston alum, which has 14 employees, is also making its software generally available to the public, and it is talking a bit more about its plans in a very fast-moving sector.

First, some background. “Backend” refers to the software on the server side of applications. It handles everything from analytics and user authentication to databases and libraries that an app needs to access. All of that can be tedious and messy to code. But Kinvey and a growing list of companies (see ecosystem chart below, which you can click on to blow it up) believe that such code can be standardized so that developers can spend more time on the unique, customer-facing features of their apps and less time on the infrastructure.

Kinvey goes further than most, in that it tries to let app developers connect to any third-party cloud service—things like Facebook, Foursquare, Google Places, or Urban Airship (push notifications for news or marketing). This unified approach to accessing features and data means more work for Kinvey, but the company is confident it will pay off—and get easier. “We just need mindshare,” says Sravish Sridhar, Kinvey’s co-founder and CEO.

In case this is all still too abstract, think of it this way. Whether you’re an indie developer or a big company, you’re looking at spending at least $50,000 (or the equivalent time) on backend development for the first version of your app, says Sridhar. And you can sign away your credit card to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Terremark, or any number of cloud providers. Alternatively, you can use Kinvey’s backend as a service and start paying $30 or $150 per month once your app is live (after the first 200 users, which are free); Kinvey manages its platform across different cloud providers, so if one goes down, your app stays up.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, assuming Kinvey’s technology is completely reliable. What’s more, Sridhar shot down a notion I’ve heard that … Next Page »

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. Follow @gthuang

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