One of Seattle’s hottest startup companies has scored cash from one of the region’s biggest venture capital firms. Swype, which allows consumers to input text on mobile phones and tablet computers with the “Swype” of a finger, has landed $3.5 million in a deal led by Bellevue-based Ignition Partners.
Swype CEO Mike McSherry tells GeekWire that the $3.5 million is part of a larger financing round which is expected to close in the coming weeks. As touchscreen devices become more ubiquitous, Swype is juggling multiple opportunities to embed its text-input technology on TVs, gaming consoles, car navigation systems and other gadgets.
Swype also has reaped the rewards of not being on the iPhone, since mobile device makers use the Swype keyboard as a point of differentiation against Apple. That’s led to a huge marketing campaign by some partners such as Samsung which tout the text-input system.
McSherry laughed when asked specifically about whether we might see Swype on Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone (a question he’s accustomed to hearing from me).
“We are having discussions with almost every OEM that you could imagine,” he said.
At a recent event in Seattle, McSherry suggested that one day you could see Swype become a part of next-generation gaming systems such as Microsoft’s Kinect.
“We think Swype works for anything that you would touch, point a remote control at, point a finger or head at and use gestures,” said McSherry.
Prior to the most recent financing, Swype had raised $8 million. Other investors in the company include Benaroya Capital, Nokia, Samsung and Docomo. The company, which now employs 70 people, is growing fast as it adds staffers in development and international operations.
Ignition’s Adrian Smith led the investment, and he’s joining the company as a board observer. Ignition has plenty of experience in the mobile realm, including Smith who formerly worked at McCaw Cellular.
Swype was founded by Cliff Kushler, a Seattle inventor who is best known for co-creating the Tegic T9 text input system.
McSherry declined to comment on whether the company is profitable at this time. “We are doing tremendously well, better than anyone expected,” he said. At this point, the Swype keyboard has been installed on more than 25 million handsets and tablet computers worldwide.