Jingle gets $30M, and the 411 on free directory assistance
The tech blogs are chattering about the infusion of another $30 million into Silicon Valley startup Jingle, which provides free directory assistance through 1-800-Free411. TechCrunch reports that the latest round brings Jingle's total funding to $60 million, giving the company a valuation north of $150 million.
The Browser thinks they're worth every penny. We HATE paying $1.25 for lame directory assistance, and we'd happily sit through a 15-second ad for 1-800-Flowers.com to get help gratis - which is how Jingle proposes to turn all that free assistance into cash money. But don't take our word for it: Talk to Goldman Sachs or the Hearst Corporation, both of which helped finance the latest round. Or talk to George Garrick, Jingle's CEO. That's what Matt Marshall at VentureBeat did, and he learned that the service is now handling over 450,000 requests a day - the "tipping point" in terms of growth. Hence the need for serious development money, says Garrick, who also told Marshall that Jingle is on track to bring in $1 million to $5 million in revenues this year, and "ten times that" next year.
That's quite a revenue spread given we're in the home stretch of 2006 - and given the debate about whether 15-second spots will pay for all the computer bandwidth that Jingle's going to need. What's more, the smarties at TechCrunch predict that Google will get into this space. (Screenwerk does them one better with an "an informal test" that compares Jingle to a hypothetical speech-enabled mobile search service from Google.) The Browser's response? We're going with our gut: One dollar is far too much to pay for a telephone number in the Google era. We sure wouldn't want to be earning our living off conventional 411 right now.
Problem: I like many others are charged at least $1.25 for 911 calls from our celluar phones.
Solution: Maybe a 15-second ad can play before a 911 operator can be reached? "This cry for help is sponsored by 1-800-Flowers.com." Who says accountants have no sense of humor?
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