Foundry Group Invests in SimpleGeo

by Ryan McIntyre

We are pleased to announce that Foundry Group has invested in SimpleGeo. SimpleGeo, based in Boulder, CO, provides a hosted geospatial platform for web and mobile application developers, enabling third party app developers to build sophisticated location-based functionality into their applications on web-based and mobile platforms, including Android devices and the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

With the widespread availability of GPS-enabled smartphones, the market for location-based applications and services is going mainstream. Once the province of luxury automobiles and expensive single-purpose devices, hand-held turn-by-turn navigation applications have become commodity items that are either free or very low cost. Beyond basic map-based navigation apps, entirely new categories of applications have emerged based on the widespread availability of location-aware mobile devices. These include location-based advertising platforms, social/gaming “check in” tools like Foursquare and Gowalla, augmented reality applications like Layar and more.

As market demand for applications with location-aware features has increased, developers have struggled with the complexity and domain specialization related to building geospatial functions into their applications. As a result, a market opportunity has emerged for a company to provide an easy-to-use and scalable geolocation infrastructure platform to third-party application developers.

SimpleGeo was founded by Matt Galligan and Joe Stump. Previously, Matt founded SocialThing, a Boulder TechStars 2007 company acquired by AOL in 2008. Joe was previously Chief Architect at Digg and left the Bay Area to come to Boulder to create SimpleGeo.

SimpleGeo began life as CrashCorp and was focused on building augmented reality games for mobile devices. As they began development, they quickly discovered that the biggest challenge in building their game was implementing the geolocation infrastructure services it would require. Given the growing popularity of apps with location-based functionality, most notably the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla, the company shifted its focus towards building a robust geolocation infrastructure layer that third-party app developers could use to easily integrate sophisticated location-based functionality into their applications. Thus, SimpleGeo was born.

SimpleGeo offers a scalable cloud-based infrastructure for geodata that enables developers to store check-ins, points of interest, virtual goods and media in a private layer. This data can be retrieved by performing geospatial and spatiotemporal queries. In addition, SimpleGeo offers a rich marketplace of third-party geodata that is accessible to developers via the SimpleGeo Marketplace. The company has forged data partnerships with companies such as ESRI, deCarta, Skyhook Wireless, Quova, MetaCarta and Weather Decision Technologies.

SimpleGeo fits handily into our Glue investment theme, which includes other Foundry Group portfolio companies such as Gnip, AdMeld, Trada, Medialets, Standing Cloud, Next Big Sound and Topspin Media.

We are thrilled to be working with Matt again. Our partner Jason was one of Matt’s mentors for SocialThing during TechStars’ inaugural summer program in 2007, and we’ve followed the evolution of SimpleGeo with great interest since Matt and Joe began brainstorming about the business.

Additionally, we are fortunate to be co-investing with some great firms that we really respect and have had the pleasure of co-investing with in other portfolio companies: Redpoint Ventures and First Round Capital.  Last, but not least, we’re excited to be co-investing for the first time with Chris Sacca at Lowercase Capital and with Josh Felser and Dave Samuel at Freestyle Capital. We’re looking forward to working closely with Matt and Joe and the rest of the SimpleGeo team and our co-investors to help build SimpleGeo into a great success and a fundamental infrastructure layer of the web.

For more details from around the web, check out the following: TechCrunch covered SimpleGeo’s funding announcement this morning, and SimpleGeo blogged about it as well, detailing not only the funding, but also a bunch of great new hires.