Intel Invests in Urban Airship, Inks Deal for Portable PC Apps

11/15/11Follow @curtwoodward

Those guys in Portland are pretty busy these days. Urban Airship, the Oregon-based supplier of push notifications and other services for mobile app developers, is being named today as one of the first two investments from a new $100 million mobile application-focused investment fund from the venture arm of tech giant Intel (NASDAQ: INTC).

The amount of Intel Capital’s investment wasn’t disclosed, but the money is part of Urban Airship’s $15.1 million Series C round announced last week, which also included Salesforce.com and Verizon as investors.

In addition, Urban Airship and Intel are partnering to make the startup’s notification, payment, subscription, and location services available for developers working on apps for Intel’s own PC app store, called Intel AppUp, which focuses on portable devices like ultrabooks and netbooks powered by Intel’s Atom processor.

That could be a significant step for Urban Airship. The startup, which had previously been focusing solely on smartphone app developers, already has about 20,000 customers and says its revenue has grown “exponentially year over year.” But adding the Intel collaboration raises the possibility of expanding into millions of devices that run the Atom processor, which could pose a fresh challenge to San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) and its Snapdragon wireless “system on a chip” technology.

“Our mission is to shape mobile experiences that are constantly getting smarter, more fun and more useful,” Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton said in a release today. Intel made the announcement at its Intel Capital Global Summit in Huntington Beach, CA. The other company named as an initial investment for the new AppUp Fund is German developer 4tiitoo.

The news also comes on the heels of Urban Airship acquiring San Francisco’s SimpleGeo, a mobile location-services startup. Not bad for a team that first started wooing developers by bringing donuts to people waiting in line for an Apple conference in San Francisco.

Intel has a large semiconductor research and manufacturing office in Hillsboro, OR, which is about a half-hour outside of Portland. The company is one of Oregon’s largest private employers, according to the Intel website.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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