A $6.8 Million Vote of Confidence for Jingle

In filings at the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, Jingle Networks Inc. has indicated that it has issued and sold new shares for $6.651 million, raising the amount of money it has raised since inception roughly five years ago to $68 million. Reports indicate that nine investors participated in this round, but the company would only disclose that participants in previous rounds took part in this recent underwriting. That list includes First Round Capital, Goldman Sachs, Hearst Interactive Media, and Liberty Associated Partners. The company's Board of Directors include Ken Bronfin of Hearst, Chip Hazard of Flybridge Capital Partners, Josh Kopleman of First Round Capital, Louis Toth of Comcast Interactive Capital and David Berkman of Liberty.

Scott Kliger, former CTO, is now the CEO. In an email, he told TechCrunch that the new funds would be used to build up its mobile ad network dramatically and that the "voice service is profitable."

Update: Our research and that of others shows that two-thirds to three-quarters of mobile users are not aware of free 411 alternatives. Most people, aware to varying degrees of the cost of calling 411 on mobile handsets, call directory assistance infrequently. 

Jingle may be "profitable," but "free DA" a market that basically never happened (there may still be opportunity). The carriers, which launched their own free DA services in anticipation of usage that didn't occur (i.e., Verizon's 800-THE-INFO), now have no incentive to promote them. And Google's GOOG 411 (probably most used after Jingle's 800-Free-411) has used the service primarily as a way to train its speech recognizers to support voice search on smartphones. 

Earlier 2009 research we conducted shows that 411 usage in general is threatened by smartphones (many of which will have voice search). Below "owner" is smartphone owner, "planning" refers to those intending to buy one in the next year and "non-owner" refers to feature phone owners. 

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