San Diego’s MIR3 Expands Mass Notification Technology to Social Media Networks
On the day a Magnitude 9 earthquake and major Tsunami struck Japan, customers of MIR3 used the San Diego company’s automated notification system to transmit more than 650,000 real-time messages around the world.
“The minute it happened, I checked with engineering and our customers were using every modality of communications—SMS [text messaging], e-mail, phone calls,” CEO Amir Moussavian told me in a recent interview. MIR3 later determined its system had been used to deliver more than 346,000 e-mails; 167,000 automated phone messages; 137,000 text messages; 2,200 pager messages, 1,100 faxes, and even 291 BlackBerry PIN-to-PIN messages—sent mostly by U.S. companies to large numbers of their employees, customers, and partners.
Moussavian, who joined MIR3 in 2002, says it sometimes takes a tragedy for institutions to realize that how critically useful the Web-based messaging system can be. He says the company has been getting more inquiries about its blitz messaging service since the March 11 disaster in Japan—especially from companies and agencies in China.
Likewise, scores of U.S. colleges and universities rushed to sign up for MIR3′s software-as-a-service following a shooting rampage that killed 32 people at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. Five months later, when a disturbed gunman was arrested on the Queens campus of St. John’s University, school officials used the new MIR3 system for the first time to transmit the warning: “From public safety. Male was found on campus with a rifle. Please stay in your buildings until further notice. He is in custody, but please wait until the all-clear.”
Moussavian says the company was founded in 1999 as a messaging portal “by some doctors who went through a lot of cash with no revenue.” He says the founders asked him to join in 2002 as both CEO and investor. He had served previously as the CEO at two other software companies in the San Diego area, investing roughly $7 million in San Diego-based Contigo Software and selling the company in 2000 for $98 million to a company now known as Raindance Communications. Moussavian sold Carlsbad-based HawkNet, which he had founded in 1995, to Houston’s BMC software for an undisclosed price in 1995 (he used some of the proceeds from that deal to found AngelHawk Investments in 1996).
Moussavian says his idea for re-energizing MIR3 in 2002 came from his inability to quickly reach employees, which gave rise to his nickname, “IG,” as in instant gratification. “In all these companies, the problem I had was getting a hold of people, and getting information out, and making decisions quickly.” At Contigo Software, Moussavian says he was so frustrated by his inability to get anyone to answer the phone in research and development, which was in a separate facility, that he hired a telephone installer to add a phone number so every phone in the department rang when he called.
The service he initially envisioned for MIR3 would be a replacement for the “calling trees” that many companies had in place during the 1990s as part of their business continuity plans. If business was disrupted, employees would notify others through a cascade of expanding calls. “Allstate Insurance was our first customer—a huge company that was willing to use our company with 12 people to develop and outsource their business continuity plan.”
Today MIR3 has about 100 employees, and provides its two-way messaging platform to thousands of customers, including 46 businesses on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, the top three U.S. cellular providers, and three of the world’s five biggest financial institutions. The company also counts NASA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Energy, among its customers.
The company’s customers also are increasingly using MIR3′s system for non-urgent notifications to a number of people using a variety of mobile phones, landlines, e-mail, pagers, and other forms of communications. For example, Moussavian says Procter & Gamble uses the system to alert employees in various offices that a corporate conference call is beginning. Other companies are using the system for product recall notifications, shipping delivery schedules, and even to request monthly sales data from employees in the field. He says the U.S. Air Force even uses the technology to scramble its jet fighters.
More recently, with the dramatic increase in social networks like Facebook, MIR3 has moved to expand its communications platform to unite the corporate enterprise with social media inboxes—creating what the company calls one central and secure “corporate inbox.”
Moussavian explained that Facebook said several months ago that it had formulated plans to consolidate all communication into a single social inbox, essentially becoming the ultimate online switchboard for Facebook users. MIR3′s strategy calls for extending that concept to the enterprise, starting with the company’s strong customer base and using its core technology to develop what the company calls its MIR3 Enterprise Gateway. In a statement from the company, Moussavian says, “We will be able to give our corporate users full control of their communications across any device or social network, creating a single, continuous and secure conversation that is platform independent.”
The company says it is marketing its system to corporate IT executives by emphasizing that its enterprise gateway follows the technology model of the highly secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server and RIM Network infrastructure.
Moussavian says the privately held company has been profitable for the past three years, and MIR3′s technology development has not needed venture capital funding. “I’m one of those people who believes in financing your company through your customers,” he says.