BonitaSoft, a provider of an open source business process management (BPM) solution, has raised a $13 million Series C round led by the FSN PME Fund, a French government initiative to invest in technology companies to help them scale globally. Also joining the round are previous investors Ventech, Auriga Partners, and Serena Capital. The new funding round brings the total raised by the company to just over $28 million since being founded in 2009, and follows an $11m Series B in late 2011.
BonitaSoft is headquartered in Grenoble, France — hence the French government’s backing — although it also has a U.S. office in San Francisco where I’m told CEO Miguel Valdes Faura spends half his time, as well an another office in Paris. It operates in the BPM space, competing with the likes of Pegasystems, Appian, LongJump, and a number of other open source players.
Companies use BPM software to automate their processes, particularly where these operate at the intersection of machines and people. For example, insurance companies might employ a BPM suite to design software to automate the claims process when a customer is involved in a car accident. Or to streamline and make accountable any business process where without systems in place things would otherwise fall through the cracks, especially at scale.
To that end, BonitaSoft’s solution includes a design studio to model business processes, a BPM engine that adapts to various information systems architectures, and an end-user interface for managing and interacting with processes. It also has support for a range of internal and external systems via a library of hundreds of ‘Connectors’ and a strong developer community (due to its open source nature) who contribute connectors, business processes and other extensions.
BonitaSoft says that it serves more than 600 companies and governments worldwide, claiming customers such as Accenture, DirectTV, Old Dominion University, Trane, Teach For America and Michelin. Its software has seen more than 2 million downloads, while the open source community is said to be 60,000 member-strong.
Like other open source business models, BonitaSoft makes money by charging for additional add-ons and support. It plans to use the new capital to “fuel its global expansion plans in the USA, Europe, and Latin America”, specifically increasing its marketshare of mid and large-sized businesses who currently rely on proprietary and aging BPM solutions. It also plans to plough some of that cash into developing next-generation BPM technologies.
Telefonica is today announcing a deal with Samsung that will see it make an even bigger move into the area of carrier billing. Samsung will integrate the carrier’s billing backend directly into its own mobile services, meaning that the Telefonica customers (it has 316 million worldwide) who use the Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps portals on Samsung smartphones will be able to buy apps, music, videos, books, games and more and charge them directly to their phone bills.
The agreement, which will use Telefonica’s BlueVia payment APIs, is a significant one for Telefonica. So far it has inked deals with app portal operators, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and RIM, and with billing providers like Bango; this effectively closes the loop for it by securing a deal with the world’s largest handset maker, although a recent deal to help the carrier finance the procurement and distribution of BlackBerry devices could point to Telefonica gearing up for a similar deal with that handset maker, too.
In addition to Bango, Telefonica also works with BOKU, where it led a $35 million investment last year. It’s not clear how this deal with Samsung will play out between these two rival billing providers. In the past Telefonica has been vague on the subject, saying that it will work one or the other depending on the situation.
Telefonica has been especially bullish on trying to come up with a way to get a piece of the action on apps and other content that is getting purchased on smartphones and tablets. Apple’s early move into the area with its very popular App Store (just this week marking its 50-billionth download) set a precedent for all but cutting carriers out of the picture, with Apple handling the payment on its own platform and then dividing up resulting revenues with the app publishers.
Mobile advertising alongside often-free apps is one other area where carriers and others have tried to play, although these revenues are still small in relation to those collected from downloads and in-app purchases.
But the promise of carrier billing, as we have noted before, is that it not only offers carriers a look in to the growing pot of money being made from smartphone content, but it also provides a route for publishers to better target consumers in parts of the world where smartphone usage is growing rapidly, but payment card penetration is not so much.
The carrier framework can be used not only for consumers who take monthly plans, but also for prepaid accounts, with each purchase deducted from there, as already happens with phone minutes, data bytes and SMS messages. This is an area where Spain’s Telefonica, which has more users in emerging markets in Latin America than it does in any single market in Europe, can hope to gain a foothold with its carrier billing offering, even if it has (so far) missed the boat in more developed markets.
Nevertheless, this deal will be implemented in phases, starting first with a rollout with Telefonica’s subsidiary in Germany “in the coming months.”
“We strongly believe that carrier billing has the potential to drive the monetisation of digital content,” Wayne Thorsen, vice president of Global Partnerships at Telefónica Digital, said in a statement. “Partnerships like this allow us to harness the power of the billing relationships we have with our customers to make it easier for them to consume content on their tablets and mobile devices.”
For Samsung, meanwhile, it gives the company the ability to promote its own content portals as easy to use — one way of driving more users there instead of to Google’s services. As Samsung tries to further differentiate itself from the other OEMs using Android, and Google itself, little things like this could help it along the way.
“Samsung is committed to ensuring that our customers have choice and convenience when purchasing content on our devices,” Lee Epting, VP of Media Solutions Centre Europe for Samsung Electronics Europe, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Telefónica Digital allows us to deliver yet another easy and convenient purchasing experience to our Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps customers.”
Telefonica and Samsung are not strangers to each other in the area of new services; they have co-invested in the latest round for semantic, real-time search startup Expect Labs.
Editor’s note: This article was written in collaboration with our partner East-West Digital News, a leading English-language resource on Russian digital industries and related venture activity.
One thing Google apparently forgot to announce yesterday at its annual I/O developer conference (see our list here) is that it has cancelled its contract with Doctor Mobile, the developer of the mobile applications for the Quickoffice service.
Now, less than a year later, Google is shutting down two of its offices, namely in Saint Petersburg (Russia) and Kharkiv (Ukraine), where more than 100 people are working.
The news about the unceremonious contract cancellation, which might result in all those people finding themselves without a job shortly, first emerged on Twitter and on the Russian blogging platform LiveJournal, with employees from both offices complaining about the move.
Anna Zborovskaya, HR manager of Doctor Mobile’s office in Kharkiv, confirmed that Google decided to cancel its contract with the development firm after less than a year in an exchange with East-West Digital News.
“We are evaluating proposals to sell our company, and there are already negotiations underway,” Zborovskaya said, adding that it is possible that the Russian and Ukrainian offices will be sold separately.
It seems that the acquisition of Quickoffice only netted Google a product and a brand. Doctor Mobile, which was actually called Quickoffice prior to the Google purchase, apparently remained independent after the deal, continuing its cooperation with Google on a contractual basis and under a different name.
According to Google’s explanations given to Doctor Mobile, the main reason for the shuttering of the Russian and Ukrainian offices was the online search and advertising juggernaut’s decision to transfer the entirely of Quickoffice’s R&D activities to the United States.
Top image credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO for AFP / Getty Images
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has revealed that there are now over 120,000 apps in the BlackBerry World storefront.
To coincide with the milestone, Skype will be launching its cross-platform messaging service on the BlackBerry Z10 alongside the BlackBerry 10.1 firmware update, which will be rolling out to all users later today. Heins also confirmed that a number of other recognisable apps, such as Moog, iHeartRadio, SoundHound and Bloomberg Hub, will be available in the BlackBerry World store following the BlackBerry 10.1 release.
Skype has emphasized that its BlackBerry 10 app is still technically a preview version, although it will come with all of the usual features such as free voice and video calling, instant messages and the ability to call both landlines and mobile phones. The company says it will continue to work with BlackBerry “over the next few months” to refine and improve the app ahead of a full release.
Skype launched its app as a preview version for the BlackBerry Q10 in April; the second smartphone to adopt the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and one that has already been updated to version 10.1.
Heins also announced the BlackBerry Q5, a new mid-range smartphone running BlackBerry 10, at the company’s BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando today. It’s aimed at emerging markets and sports a familiar QWERTY keyboard, as well as a 3.1-inch touchscreen for all the usual swipes and gestures supported by the new platform. BlackBerry says the Q5 will be available in “selected markets” in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia – including the Asia Pacific region – and Latin America when it launches in July.
The 120,000 figure announced today is a significant improvement on the 70,000 apps that BlackBerry 10 launched with earlier this year. The issue, as always, is depth and quality throughout the store. Dozens of Web apps, combined with the absence of big name releases such as Instagram and Vine, will do little to change public perception about the BlackBerry 10 platform.
Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
If you’re a student and aspiring startup founder, you’re going to want to pay close attention to the following.
Startup Dream Team, started by Paris, France-based student organization Silicon Students, is actively looking for 45 young aspiring entrepreneurs from all around the world who are interested in joining a 9-week summer program in Silicon Valley.
Startup Dream Team essentially wants to offer young people the chance to discover what startups are all about, focusing intensely on the aspect of team creation in particular.
From June 14th to August 18th, the second edition of the program will put together 45 students from all around the globe in one house in Silicon Valley whilst they complete a full-time summer internship, in order to stimulate teamwork with like-minded wannabe entrepreneurs.
On top of that, there will be weekly pitch sessions with a host of mentors, obligatory startup visits and regular talks from top entrepreneurs and investors from the Bay Area.
The first edition of the Startup Dream Team program featured Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Robert Scoble as speakers, and About.me founder Tony Conrad and Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghabad are already on board for the next one.
Pierre-Simon Ntiruhungwa, a co-founder of Silicon Students who came up with the idea of the program while he was himself interning in a startup in Silicon Valley, says:
“Last year, we did an ‘alpha’ version of the program with 20 participants living in the same place. Great friendships came out of it and we had great talks from inspiring entrepreneurs.
This year we will really focus on having them build solid startup projects. And most importantly, every single fellow should be able to come out of the program with the ability to identify how they fit into a startup team and what type of people they like to work with.”
The goal is to make the program as international as possible. Thus, the number of participants from the United States who are allowed in will be limited to 15 out of 45. Ultimately, Silicon Students aims to extend the program to more cities next year, including several of Europe’s main hubs.
As it’s a student organization doing a program for students, Silicon Students uses crowdfunding to finance its program and you can support them until May 31st on Indiegogo.
For the record: participants actually don’t have to pay for the program, although they do have to cough up some dough to cover the house rent.
And now, probably the reason you clicked through: you can apply for the program here. Be fast, because the deadline is this Thursday, May 16th.
Important note: you don’t necessarily still have to be a student. If you’ve graduated in the past two years and are under 25, you might still be able to get in, according to the rules.
Image credit: Thinkstock