Communications platform for mobile and web apps and Disrupt SF 2013 winner Layer has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding from Homebrew, AME Cloud Ventures (Jerry Yang's investment vehicle), CrunchFund, Fuel Capital and other investors. At the same time, it has announced a key hire: Andy Vyrros, a former engineering head at Apple who led the development of iMessage and Facetime, is now CTO. We're hearing from sources that Layer's valuation post-money was in the mid-$60 million range. Layer is a communications platform that can be added to any mobile app by adding fewer than 10 lines of code into the mix. Once that Layer code snippet has been placed in an app via an SDK, users will be able to send text, voice, and video messages, and share files across different applications. We've compared the service to a Stripe for communications. The startup also offers a set of open source components called the Layer UI kit which work with the SDK, allowing developers to quickly build out specific user interface features, like an address book or a message sorter. In addition to making it easy for app developers to add messaging to apps, Layer also wants to eliminate developer concerns surrounding infrastructure or how to manage scaling. The grand Layer vision involves support for web apps, too, but for now the team is releasing an SDK for iOS and Android developers. For background, the company was founded in March by Tomaž Štolfa, founder of vox.io, and Ron Palmeri, who previously launched a number of companies as managing director of Minor Ventures, including Grand Central (now Google Voice), OpenDNS, Scout Labs and Swivel. Palmeri is also the founder of MkII Ventures, and co-founder of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 runner-up Prism Skylabs. The company also recently brought on former Apple engineering lead Andy Vyrros as CTO. At Apple, Vyrros led development of iMessage and Facetime. Though still in private beta, Layer expects to roll out to a larger number of developers. The company has ambitions of being the go-to framework for adding text, video, voice and other services into apps. Clearly investors are betting on the fact that developers want simple SDKs, and ease of use but without sacrificing security and scalability. If Layer can add that with a few lines of code, then that's a win for developers.
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