CHARLOTTE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Yap Incorporated (www.yapme.com) is pleased to announce that it has secured $6.5 million in Series A financing. Led by SunBridge Partners, the round also features participation by Harbert Venture Partners, Pittco Capital Partners, and existing individual investors. Yap will use the capital to fuel expansion of its business and accelerate its advanced research and development initiatives. As part of the round, partners from SunBridge and Harbert are joining Yap's Board of Directors, with Timothy Biltz continuing to serve as Chairman of the Board.
"Yap is truly a leader in freeform speech recognition and driving innovation in the mobile user experience," said Paul Grim, General Partner at SunBridge Partners. "It is increasingly clear that the fastest, easiest, and safest way to interact with services on a mobile device is using your voice, and Yap makes this both possible and intuitive. We are excited to help them deliver on a vision in which carriers, device makers, and web portals are all able to provide an entirely new experience for their users."
Yap launched trials of its mobile application in August 2007 and was subsequently a finalist at Silicon Valley's prestigious TechCrunch40 event. It was later named North Carolina's Early Stage Company of the Year, as it captured international attention as the solution for texting while driving. Its first beta application, dubbed Yap9, enables users to send text, SMS or Twitter messages, post updates to social networking services such as Facebook, or perform Google searches, simply by saying anything into their mobile phones. Compared to existing competitors, Yap's SaaS platform is fully automated, with no human intervention being required to manually transcribe your speech. That means it preserves your privacy, is faster, and can scale to support telco grade or web scale deployments. Production use launched in April at the US wireless industry's conference, CTIA, and has already surpassed millions of transactions, from mobile users of all walks of life.
"The scaling opportunities for this business are immense, given unrelenting growth in the mobile data services sector," confided Wayne Hunter, Managing Partner at Harbert Venture Partners. "The Yap team has shown tremendous focus and resiliency, as they create solutions to the challenges faced by the industry to deliver content more efficiently, and for consumers to get that content more easily."
"We are humbled by the industry's interest in us ever since we unveiled at TechCrunch last year, providing final validation of the need for this innovation in our daily lives," said Igor Jablokov, Yap's co-founder and CEO. "As the pioneer of this capability, especially centered around mobile messaging, we are executing an aggressive plan to bring this to market and make an impact in increasing safety for the communities we live in. We are deeply appreciative of our institutional partners for this growth opportunity and are looking forward to successful deployments throughout the globe."
Yap was founded by brothers Igor and Victor Jablokov, two young entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds in technology. The pair shared a belief that voice would be the dominant user interface for mobile devices, and that blending it with visual web services was critical to delivering an improved mobile application experience. This viewpoint was especially heightened when they noticed their younger sister being part of the texting while driving epidemic. They were joined by the scientists that invented the field of multimodal interaction, and developed a next generation platform that used freeform speech recognition to solve that disconnect. Their passionate work in making mobile messaging safer to use reached international acclaim, when they were named finalists in Silicon Valley's TechCrunch event and then voted North Carolina's Early Stage Company of the Year. Founded in 2006, Yap is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. For more information and demo videos, please visit: www.yapme.com.
About SunBridge Partners
SunBridge Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm with principal offices in Palo Alto, Cleveland and Tokyo. SunBridge uses a targeted, research-based approach to identify, invest in and foster leading technology companies pioneering innovations that catalyze dynamic, high-growth markets. SunBridge is a leading advocate of Software as a Service and Internet development through its investment in salesforce.com, the co-founding of salesforce Japan and Miracle Linux, SunBridge’s Open Source Development Network and the publishing of Japanese editions of sourceforge and Slashdot. Other examples of market leading companies within the team’s portfolio include Alien Technology—pioneer of low-cost RFID; GaiaX—a leader in private-label online communities; Flarion—broadband wireless innovator acquired by Qualcomm; and G-Mode—the world’s first Java-based mobile game publisher. For more information about SunBridge Partners, visit www.sunbridgepartners.com.
About Harbert Venture Partners
Harbert Venture Partners, with offices in Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL, provides growth capital to early stage technology and healthcare companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. Our team combines substantial investment, advisory and operating experience with capital to assist entrepreneurs in successfully executing their growth plans. Harbert Venture Partners is an affiliate of Harbert Management Corporation, a privately owned investment manager focusing on alternative asset classes. As of June 1 2008, Harbert had 20 funds under management, representing approximately $27.2 billion in assets and committed capital. For more information about HVP, visit www.harbert.net/venture-capital.
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