Mystery mobile startup pulls in £11m investment - and nobody knows what it does

A dream team of technology early birds is working on a secret project in San Francisco, and has already raised $18 million (£11 million) in funding from the likes of technology giants Accel Partners and Google Ventures.

No one knows quite what Nextbit is planning, but its team includes engineers from Google's Android team, Apple's iOS team, Dropbox, and Amazon's AWS team.

What's more, the startup's founders, Tom Moss and Mike Chan, were both heavily involved with the early days of Android.

"Our team is made up of technical rockstars from Google, Amazon, Dropbox, and Apple," the company writes on its website, along with the tantalising message:

"The future of mobile is just getting started and we're building the groundbreaking technology that will take it to the next level."

Tom Moss was an executive on the Android team at Google, and worked for Google, as Worldwide Head of Business Development and Partnerships for Android, also spending 10 months in Japan as General Manager of Android Japan and Asia-Pacific.

As part of the mysterious fundraising bid, two high-up members of Google Ventures and Accel Partners will join the Nextbit board of directors.

Rich Miner is the mobile lead at Google Ventures and was previously a co-founder of Android.

Rich Wong is the lead mobile partner at Accel Partners, and has invested in successful companies such as Angry Birds developer Rovio, AdMob (acquired by Google), 3LM (acquired by Motorola Mobility) and MoPub (acquired by Twitter).

They represent decades of experience in the heavyweight world of mobile technology venture capital, and this big investment of money, time and energy from two big tech investment firms has tipped the world off to the fact that something big might be happening over at Nextbit.

"A lot of people assume core mobile technology is done because it's so much better than it was in 2010," Moss said. "But you could have said the same thing about the Apple IIe and look at where we are today. Mobile still has a long way to go."

The Nextbit webpage is just as enigmatic as the rest of the company's profile. Alongside veiled hints at what the company might be up to, and an appeal for programmers in the Bay area to get in contact, and the message "Hold tight, we're in the middle of building something great," users can also download a picture of the Nextbit logo - a sheep, in three colours. Black, blue and white.

The company is also hiring. Nextbit is currently splashing out some of those venture capital dollars, and looking to hire Android, backend and systems engineers.

"We are actually working on something really hard," said Chan, who headed up power management for the Android OS in its early days. "We wanted to make sure we wouldn't have the stress of raising money while we're building it."

For now, the Nextbit project is a closely guarded secret. But with such a qualified team, and a hefty wad of venture capital cash behind it, this is one stealth startup to watch.

Image: Flickr (roger4336)