Jun 13 2014, 7:52am CDT | by Forbes
Glympse is a real-time location sharing startup that has raised $12 million in Series C funding. This funding round was provided by new investors UMC Capital and Verizon Ventures. Existing investors Ignition Partners, Menlo Ventures and Naya Ventures also participated. Based in Seattle, Glympse has now raised a total of $20 million in institutional funding. Glympse co-founder and CEO Bryan Trussel told FORBES that the valuation is not being shared publicly, but there was a “strong interest” in this round.
Glympse runs a consumer app and a platform for businesses to integrate its location technology. The consumer app lets users send a message to contacts with a link containing a map of your location as it changes in real-time. You can set the amount of time that you want your location shared based on the number of minutes or hours. Glympse tracks your location using the GPS coordinates of your device. I have used the Glympse app many times to let my family know when I am leaving the office so that they will know exactly when I reach home.
On the business side, Glympse’s app is used in messaging apps, car infortainment systems and in-flight WiFi. BlackBerry and Samsung have integrated Glympse into messaging programs. Car infotainment systems that are in BMW, Mercedes, GM, Ford and Volvo vehicles have Glympse built-in. Inflight WiFi company Gogo works with Glympse to display where a plane is traveling for people on the ground to determine if it will be on time or delayed. There are taxi and limo companies that use Glympse to let customers know where they are for pickups. Glympse is used by tens of millions of people through its platform partners.
Glympse will be using the funding to grow its team, invest in partnership initiatives and expand products. Glympse has 21 employees and is planning to nearly double the team by the end of this year. Verizon’s investment in Glympse was strategic as the two companies will be looking for further opportunities to work closely together./>
Glympse pioneered the real-time temporary location sharing app concept in 2009. Trussel told me that he and his co-founder Steve Miller met while working at Microsoft together. They saw an enormous opportunity around location, which is how they came up with the idea for the company. “Our first prototype was around tracking where you were during the day and then overlaying that time stamp on your photos so that you could automatically geotag your photos from your digital camera. But when we built that prototype and could see one another’s movements on a map, we realized that the ‘where are you’ scenario was actually much more compelling and mass market. We realized by putting a time limit on sharing for the sender and making it easy and dynamic for the recipient, we could solve the ‘where are you’ problem with an app,” said Trussel in the interview.
The real-time location-sharing trend is not slowing down. A couple of months ago, Facebook announced a new feature called “Nearby Friends,” which lets you see what venues or cities that some of your friends are at. Google acquired the social mapping and location-sharing company Waze for nearly $1 billion last year. At WWDC this month, Apple announced that real-time location-sharing will be built into iMessage when iOS 8 is released in the fall. A number of location sharing products have come and gone over the years, but Glympse continued to gain traction because it is cross-platform, compatible with any messaging app and has a robust user interface.
I asked Trussel if there were any situations that stood out to him where Glympse was considered helpful in terms of safety. He told me a situation about “a husband who had his wife send a Glympse when she went kayaking. She got stuck in the river by a steep embankment that she couldn’t climb out of. He was able to find her and throw her a rope to get her out.” Trussel said that he received an e-mail from a dad who had not heard of Glympse prior to his daughter getting into an accident. His daughter was a new driver and had a hard time trying to explain where she was because it was not a well-known road. “However, she had Glympse on her phone so she sent her dad a message with her location, and they were able to get to her, as well as navigate emergency services there. The family are now avid users and huge fans of Glympse,” he added.
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