SAN FRANCISCO, March 19 (Reuters) - SpinVox, which converts voicemail messages into text and sends them to a recipient’s inbox or phone, has raised more than $100 million in funding from a Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) unit and other institutional investors, the company said on Wednesday.
This third round of funding values London-based SpinVox “in excess of $500 million,” co-founder and Chief Executive Christina Domecq said in an interview.
SpinVox plans to use the money to expand its presence in North America and introduce voice-to-text services in more languages, she said.
SpinVox has deals with 12 cell phone carriers globally, including Canada’s Rogers Mobile and Alltel Wireless, the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, and plans to double that number this year.
It is negotiating with all the top U.S. network carriers and expects to announce two deals in the next quarter, Domecq said.
“Voicemail is not a very sexy subject,” she said. “The carriers are all looking for ways of driving new revenue streams, and increased voice and text traffic is the perfect way to do that.”
Domecq estimated that the global market for voice-to-text services in English, French, German and Spanish — languages in which SpinVox already offers its service — is worth about $5 billion annually.
SpinVox, which has 300 employees and offices in nine countries, will use a portion of the $100 million to develop its service in Portuguese, Italian and Arabic, Domecq said.
SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.
“It’s a simple idea built out of frustration,” said Domecq, a 31-year-old IT entrepreneur who co-founded SpinVox four years ago.
“Why do I have to pull everything out of my purse and get out a pen and paper to jot down a voicemail?” she said, explaining how the idea was born. “I just didn’t get it.”
The latest round includes funding from GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management, and doubles the amount raised so far to $200 million, Domecq said. The company previously raised cash from angel investors and private equity firms.
SpinVox is also working to provide voicemail conversion for office phone systems. It earlier signed an agreement to provide its service for users of Skype, which is owned by eBay Inc (EBAY.O). The service is expected to launch in the second half of this year, Domecq said.
It also has a downloadable application for social networks Facebook and News Corp’s NWSa.N MySpace.
Goldman Sachs International advised SpinVox on the latest round of funding.
The company has no immediate plans to go public or sell itself but is exploring all options, Domecq said. (Editing by Brian Moss)