Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Eye-Fi Gets $20 Million in Funding, Looks to Mobile Phones for Growth

Eye-Fi, maker of SD cards that enable wireless connectivity in digital cameras, has nabbed $20 million in a Series D round of funding from Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and existing investors, including Shasta Ventures, Opus Capital and TransLink Capital.

In addition, the company has added former Skype and eBay exec Michele Don Durbin to its team as vice president of marketing, as Eye-Fi eyes more international growth.

The capital infusion from NTT DoCoMo means Mountain View-based Eye-Fi is going deeper into mobile, after having originally made its footprint in digital cameras without Wi-Fi connectivity.

In April, the company said, NTT DoCoMo’s 59 million mobile subscribers in Japan will be able to use Eye-Fi to share photos between their digital cameras and mobile devices without needing to upload them to a computer. Eye-Fi will introduce a series of applications for both iOS and Android that will allow users to have an Eye-Fi experience without the card, Eye-Fi CEO Yuval Koren said.

“As you think about Eye-Fi and how we’ve evolved, we’re thinking about it as a service first and a device second, especially on connected handsets and smartphone platforms,” Koren said.

The partnership with NTT DoCoMo marks the second in Japan for Eye-Fi. Last fall, the company struck a deal with KDDI, Japan’s second-largest mobile operator, for unbundled app distribution to its mobile subscribers.

Eye-Fi’s focus on mobile comes as the company is facing a possible change to SD card standards that could increase competition for the start-up. In January, the SD Association, which represents more than a thousand companies that determine and promote SD standards, announced plans for a new Wireless LAN SD standard for full-sized and micro SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. Eye-Fi said that this proposed new standard violated Eye-Fi’s intellectual property.

A spokesperson for the SD Association told AllThingsD that there are no updates on whether the new standard has been approved, and that the Association is still following its normal process of evaluating disclosures received during the IP disclosure period.

Eye-Fi’s Koren would only say, “As far as we can tell, they are taking a serious look at the IP question that we’ve raised, and we look forward to their response on that.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald