I covered a new Boulder startup called 5o9 back in March and at that time the founder (Liz Coker) was extremely vague as to what they were really up to.
Today, Liz told me that the company has exited “total stealth mode” as they progress towards their first full scale pilot tests. Indeed, the 5o9 web site provides much more information now. The company appears to be building a platform for content providers to use in order to facilitate mobile connections that securely access opt-in personal information such as identity and location.
5o9 calls their approach Pushing With Permission. The end user uses a mobile application to define what information they’re comfortable with sharing and to which content providers. This includes data such as current location (for GPS enabled mobile devices), name, address, phone number, type of device, etc.
Content providers install the 5o9 platform and in turn have access to this information and can optimize the mobile experience. A great example of this is to serve a location-based coupon, as shown here. The nice thing here is that I can use a single tool on my mobile device to configure what I want to share, when and with whom. This is a critical and missing element in the mobile strategy of most organizations. 5o9 proposes to provide the standard toolset to enable these features for content providers.
5o9 wants to “connect the physical and virtual worlds“, which is certainly quite the challenge. At least one blogger covering the “Personal World Connection (PWC)” space finds the 5o9 solution to have a chance of doing just that. In order to make a dent in this market, it seems to me that 5o9 will need some big time strategic partners such as cellular operators and/or device manufacturers to pre-install the mobile component. Distribution is often the challenge in the mobile space. 5o9’s solution has to be viewed as a well supported standard by the consumer. If not, it will be very hard to get people to make the effort to install the application just to gain benefits on a single site. Liz hinted to me that they are in the process of signing on a “very large strategic partner” which may address this very issue.
5o9 hopes to close a Series A investment round by the end of this year and have an initial product release by Q2 of 2007. Thanks to Liz Coker for the update.