Location-based social networking might be a clogged market, but it's still hot: Pelago, the parent company of mobile service Whrrl, is set to announce that the company has pulled in a $15 million Series B financing round. It'll be used for "strategic technology investments," as well as partnerships, which are crucial for mobile services that have to deal with cell carriers. Whrrl also hopes to expand across North America and into overseas markets.
The new cash comes from lead investor Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile Venture Fund, with contributions from Reliance Technology Ventures and DAG Ventures. Previous investors from Pelago's $7.4 million Series A round also added to the $15 million: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Bezos Expeditions.
There are a handful of location-based mobile services--Loopt, Brightkite, Rummble, Where.com, Yahoo's Fire Eagle--attempting to capture a slice of the market, and none have broken out since early leader Dodgeball was acquired by Google and proceeded to fade away.
So is the $15 million warranted? Maybe. Whrrl slightly differentiates itself from its competitors by using a graphical interface to show Yelp-like recommendations from friends. On one hand, it may be free from "stalking" criticisms that other track-your-friends services are subject to; on the other, Whrrl could be toast if a site like Yelp launches a similar mobile service.