Mozes SMS Service Raises $5m

SMS call-and-response service Mozes will announce in the morning that the company has raised $5 million in series A venture funding from Norwest Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.  The SMS services space is one of the most active we cover and Mozes has a strikingly smart approach to the market. The Palo Alto based company, founded in 2005, offers almost the most sophisticated feature set of any consumer oriented SMS service I’ve seen yet.

Users send a keyword by text message to 66937 (Mozes) and receive whatever message the owner of that keyword has determined.  In addition to news updates on any topic, keyword owners can send ringtones and perform polls.  Registering your first keyword is free and additional keywords cost $5 per month.   The dominant use cases right now are bands enabling their fans to request updates but the possibilities are endless.  Gabe Rivera, I found out after trying it, scored the keyword “gossip” and sends the newest headline from his gossip memetracker WeSmirch when users text “gossip” to Mozes.  When users go to the Mozes website and enter their phone numbers, they are shown all their most recent received messages, complete with links from the senders.

The service enables a number of other activities by SMS as well.  Users can text any question they have to Mozes and their friends list will be given an opportunity to answer that questions by Google Talk IM.  Users can send notes to themselves by entering “.n” before any note they want to store in their Mozes account online. (.n nice hair, singer guy.)  Links to MySpace and Facebook user profiles can be saved by sending the social network’s name followed by the username.  Amazon affiliate links to books can be saved in you Mozes account by texting “book” and the ISBN number.  That way the next time you are at a bar and someone recommends a book to you, you can save the book by ISBN and remember who sent it via their Facebook profile link!  

Ok, so that may not be realistic but the moral of the story is that Mozes gives ample opportunities for users to send a whole lot of text messages.  The standard business model for SMS services is to receive a share of the SMS fee for each message sent to the service from the carriers.

This call-and-response model sounds less annoying though also less sticky than the model used by TextMarks, another SMS company profiled here this week.  I think it’s a very smart approach. The only issue it raises in my mind is that messages are driven by keywords and prime (short, memorable) keywords are inevitably in short supply. The name “Mozes” is far enough from the number 411, 0 or whatever other catchy point of access  previous generations used that adding long keywords could make the service too onerous for ongoing use.  If usable keywords prove to be a finite resource, that could be a problem.

The feature set, approach to markets and direct path to monetization make Mozes look like a money printing machine, albeit one that prints money in very small increments.