Verizon Ventures led a $57 million Series C funding round for Jana, a Boston-based provider of free, unrestricted internet access in emerging markets. Existing investors Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe also participated in the round.
BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jana, the largest provider of free, unrestricted Internet access in emerging markets, today announced a $57 million Series C round led by new investor Verizon Ventures and participation from existing investors Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe. The funding will accelerate Jana’s expansion into emerging markets and help the company address the need for free internet data around the world.
ana also announced that Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, has agreed to serve on the company’s advisory board. Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis, is also an advisor, and further bolsters Jana’s ability to serve its advertising partners around the world.
“I’m excited that Verizon Ventures has invested in a company that is seeking to transform access to the internet. By 2020, more than 5 billion people will be mobile, and new, engaging ways to access data will become increasingly important worldwide,” said Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL.
“Over 30 million users have benefited from Jana’s free, unrestricted internet access, but our goal is to reach the next billion,” said Nathan Eagle, CEO of Jana. “With Verizon’s support and Tim Armstrong as an advisor, we look forward to continuing record-breaking growth in emerging markets and quick expansion into China.”
Following Jana’s success in India and expansion into additional key markets, such as Indonesia and Brazil, the company has ambitious plans to launch in China, bringing its mCent app to the most populous country in the world. Jana’s mCent Android app unlocks free data in exchange for brand engagement, allowing users to earn data that can be used anywhere on the internet – to use another app like WeChat, to do a Google search or to watch a YouTube video, for example.
As the second largest mobile advertising platform in India next to Google, Jana has twice the reach of users than Free Basics (formerly Internet.org) and surpassed Facebook’s growth revenue in nine months after launching mCent in India. The company drives ROI and engagement for more than 3,000 brands – including Amazon, Saavn, Twitter, and WeChat – and has partnered with 311 mobile carriers, giving Jana the capability to connect with 4.56 billion smartphones worldwide.
“In four years, brands will spend an estimated $300 billion on advertising, which provides a major opportunity for Jana to work with brands to offset data costs for accessing the Internet,” said Vijay Doradla, Director at Verizon Ventures. “We are excited to support Jana in giving the world greater access to free data.”
Jana provides free, unrestricted internet access in emerging markets to more than 30 million people, with the goal of reaching the next billion. Jana is shifting the cost of data to brands via sponsored content, letting users download, try and engage with apps and in return gain free data to be used anywhere on the internet. Jana was inspired by Nathan Eagle’s time as a Fulbright professor at the University of Nairobi. He and his students developed a system for rural nurses to text centralized blood banks when supplies were low, but the system’s success was hindered by the cost of data — the expense prevented nurses from sending the SMS. When the system was upgraded to automatically reimburse them for data used, the nurses enthusiastically returned to the system. Jana was born out of this insight that smartphones can be used not only for global communication, but also data sponsorship. For more information, please visit https://jana.com/.