This article was originally published by Sarah Perez on TechCrunch on October 25, 2011.
Location Labs, a location-as-a-service provider and makers of mobile parental control utility Safely, is today announcing the acquisition of two companies in the mobile space, Wirkle andVolly. Wirkle, a mobile product development firm, and group messaging company Volly will bring their product portfolios, IP and team to Location Labs as a part of their respective deals.
Although the terms of the deals were not disclosed, the cumulative value of both companies was in the millions.
Location Labs may not be a household name, but its technology is pre-loaded onto millions of mobile phones in the U.S. The company’s Sparkle mobile platform serves as the basis for Safely, and is shipping pre-installed on all of Sprint’s smartphones. In addition to Sprint, the company also counts among its partners AT&T and T-Mobile, and its solutions power the carrier-branded Family Locator apps as well as Sprint and T-Mobile’s ”no texting while driving” services.
The new acquisitions will help Location Labs further expand into becoming a full-fledged mobile security company, says CEO Tasso Roumeliotis. “Symantec protects data on your PC, but your mobile phone is a personal security device,” he explains. The company plans to delve deeper into what a phone can do to help users stay secure, even going so far as to protect you when you have to walk through a darkened parking garage alone.
But how will it do so? Here, Roumeliotis plays a bit coy but hints that Location Labs is already working with 911 providers to set up some sort of mobile alerting capabilities (perhaps SMS). It’s also building out services that could provide alerting functionality for those sort of “non-emergency” emergencies – like when you have a flat tire or run out of gas, and need a friend to come get you.
Wirkle has experience with mobile platform development which will help speed the time to market with these new solutions, while Volly’s group-messaging functionality could be used within Location Labs’ current and future safety and security apps.
San Francisco-based Location Labs previously raised $26 million in venture financing from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, BlueRun Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Intel Capital and Mitsui Ventures. It now has 150 employees, is profitable and no longer considers itself a startup.