Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Saved by a Call, True Software Builds Global Phonebook

Truecaller, a caller-ID app that is among the fastest-growing apps in the world, typifies the reality that most tech startups sit on a razor’s edge; the difference between survival and death might be one phone call.

For founders Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam, the fateful call came in April 2013. After raising about $2 million in the prior four years, the men, whose company is based in Stockholm, Sweden, had nearly run out of cash. Fundraising seemed futile. They kept striking out with U.S. and European VCs, many of whom weren’t familiar with Truecaller because it only had traction in countries like Jordan and India.

Among the firms that passed: New York-based Insight Venture Partners, which focuses on late-stage startups. Still, the men asked the firm for information about Path, a mobile social network that was personally backed by an Insight co-founder. A couple of hours later, Jerry Murdock, the Path investor, called them. He eventually saved them from bankruptcy.

Today, the under-the-radar startup has taken an early lead in the race to build a Web-based global phone book of people and businesses. Its goal is to become a new type of search service for the mobile phone, taking advantage of the address book as a new kind of social network.

No subscription? You're missing out.

Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information's original news and in-depth reporting.

One key to True Software’s growth has been deals to come preloaded on new phones made by manufacturers such as Micromax, AsusTek and Tecno for markets like India and parts of Africa. It has recently been in talks with phone maker Xiaomi for a distribution deal in India and could parlay that into a China deal.

Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Athletic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Even if Truecaller can’t make money on its own, it may be viewed as a strategic acquisition target for a social network that wants to juice growth, like Snapchat.