SAN FRANCISCO (Private Equity Week) - Metrics matter. That's especially true on the Web where the number of "eyeballs" a site attracts helps to establish what a company charges advertisers.
But as people move from desktop browsing to accessing sites via mobile phones, tracking the exact number of visitors has become more difficult.
San Francisco-based Motally is working to help online publishers determine who is accessing their content and how visitors are interacting with their websites. The startup recently raised $1 million in early-stage venture funding from BlueRun Ventures and angel investor Ron Conway, according to regulatory filings and the company.
Motally is selling into a growing market. The number of U.S. mobile phone users that access the Web daily doubled to more than 22 million in 2008, according to market research firm comScore. The number of mobile Web users could double again in 2009, thanks to the growing ubiquity of mobile devices such as the iPhone which operates on faster, 3G networks.
Motally will use the funds to hire a sales team and to fill out its team, said founder and CEO Arte Merritt.
Motally's technology allows a publisher to track what devices, carriers and individual users are accessing its content. The company sells a business version of its service for $1,000 per month, targeting websites that record more than 25 million page views a month.
Tracking mobile Web surfers is a problem for big companies, said Merritt. He got a taste of the frustration of tracking mobile users while he worked as a product manager at Yahoo Mobile.
"Operators were paying Yahoo up to 25 cents per user and not being able to track those users was a real problem," he said. "There's something really missing here when these guys don't have the numbers."
One of the biggest head-scratchers Merritt saw there was why Yahoo YHOO.O users would start to register online and then quit the process mid-way through. Just one in nine users actually made it through the sign-up process and nobody at Yahoo knew why, he said.
Merritt started working on Motally to solve just this type of problem. "With a product like this, you can track why people were dropping off."
The startup's recent funding comes in part from Menlo Park, Calif.-based BlueRun Ventures, which has ties to mobile-phone maker Nokia (NOK.N). BlueRun closed its fourth fund earlier this year at $240 million, below the $300 million target it had set.
BlueRun brought the deal to individual investor Conway, an early backer of Google (GOOG.O), who helped bring the early-stage funding round to over $1 million.
The technology behind Motally's service helped attract BlueRun Partner John Malloy. Several aspects of tracking a mobile user's Web activity are more difficult than tracking a computer user.
"Getting it to work across all devices and networks is a big thing," he said.
Analytics companies have been an attractive target for strategic investors. Google used acquisitions to build its Google Analytics traffic tracking suite. It bought Urchin Software Corp. in 2005, Measure Map in 2006 and Trendalyzer in 2007.