Canadian mobile messenger raises $34m

Montreal, Canada-based mobile messaging solution provider OZ has raised a second round of financing, including an investment from the Caisse de dépôt.

OZ, a consumer mobile messaging solution provider based in Montreal, Canada, has raised US$34 million (€25.9 million) in a second round of financing, OZ said in a statement. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a Canadian institutional fund manager, VantagePoint Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, and Fonds de Solidarite (FTQ), a Canadian capital investment fund have contributed to the financing.

“This financing will provide OZ with the means to continue to expand its mobile messaging offering, drive usage, expand its sales and marketing reach and continue to provide top-notch service to its wide range of mobile operation, OEM and service provider customers from around the world,” the statement said.

The independent technology and consulting firm Yankee Group predicts that the consumer mobile messaging sector will grow from more than $50 billion in revenues this year to more than $67 billion by 2009, the statement said. Such growth would make mobile messaging one of the fastest growing categories in the mobile communications industry, the statement added.

A number of leading mobile companies use OZ’s technology, including Alltel, AOL, Boost Mobile, Cingular, Dobson, KPN, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens, SonyEricsson, Sprint, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile, the statement said.

“There are 944 million instant messaging accounts, 1.4 billion email addresses and more than 200 million social networking users on the internet today; and all of these people are generating 10’s of billions of messages every day,” the statement said. “However only a small fraction of these people are using these applications on their mobile phones, but when asked in a recent OZ poll, 40 percent of respondents said that they would use mobile IM and Email on their phones if it was easy and affordable – this is the opportunity OZ is going after.”

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec joined The Blackstone Group and Stockholm-based EQT to acquire Kabel Ba den-Wurttemberg, a German television, broadband internet and telephone provider, in April. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported the value was €1.3 billion ($1.6 billion).