Verve Raises $14M C Round From Qualcomm, Nokia, Blue Run Ventures

2/13/13Follow @bvbigelow

Verve Mobile, which provides a Web-based platform that enables its media customers to offer news and advertising to mobile users, says it has raised $14 million in a Series C round led by Nokia Growth Partners, a corporate venture fund of the Finnish wireless giant.

Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate investing arm of San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), and BlueRun Ventures, an existing investor, joined in the round. The investment from Nokia was a reunion of sorts for Verve co-founder and president Tom Kenney, who was overseeing mobile Internet investments for Nokia Venture Partners, a previous incarnation of Nokia’s investment fund, before he helped start BlueRun Ventures with funding from Nokia, Goldman Sachs, and others.

Kenney, who lives near San Diego, founded Verve Wireless in 2005 with Art Howe, a newspaper industry executive and former journalist in the Philadelphia area. The company is now based in Carlsbad, CA, Washington, DC, (where CEO Tom MacIsaac is based), and New York, where much of the U.S. advertising industry is based. The company rebranded itself as Verve Mobile in August.

In its statement today, Verve says it plans to use the capital to expand its mobile location-based advertising and publishing products, which use geo-sensing technologies and dynamic advertising to deliver offers to mobile users. Verve posted a report on its website earlier this month with insights from its analysis of more than 2,500 location-based advertising campaigns delivered on its mobile platform during 2012. In today’s statement, MacIssac says, “Verve’s focus is combining big data, location-based services (LBS) and ad technologies to make mobile advertising work better for advertisers and publishers.”

Kenney also tells me Verve plans to use the funding to expand its roster of national sales personnel and engineers. The company now has about 75 employees, up from about 50 employees nearly a year ago, and is expected to grow to 120 staffers by the end of this year.

The company’s focus also has expanded from regional newspapers and broadcasters to a nationwide mobile media platform. “We’re one of the top five mobile ad networks now,” Kenney says. Total use of Verve’s network of media customers has grown to about 108 unique visitors per month from about 91 million in March 2012.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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