SimpleGeo, a much-watched location data provider lead by serial CEO Jay Adelson, has apparently proven unsuccessful in turning the incredible potential of its technology into a thriving standalone business. Today blogger Michael Arrington reports that the company has been acquired in an all-stock deal by fast-growing Portland, Oregon startup UrbanAirship.
UrbanAirship was born just a few short years ago, when a team of unemployed online bacon salesmen found out they could offer mobile push notifications and in-app sales functionality fast enough and cheap enough that brands all over the world would buy their service rather than build it themselves. That company grew fast and led by CEO Scott Kveton has apparently acquired SimpleGeo, a company led by an even more storied CEO, Jay Adelson of Equinix and Digg. Adelson has been at SimpleGeo for just under a year and there is no word yet about whether he'll be joining Airship.
Many other questions remain. What will UrbanAirship do with all that data? The two companies announced a data sharing partnership in July, so maybe we already know the answer to that one.
How did UrbanAirship get this big this fast? By facilitating and measuring mobile analytics and commerce.
Why did SimpleGeo not take off? Are companies buying data about places from other companies, or not from anyone at all? It's hard to say, but at least one competing geodata service provider tells us that pure API plays are hard to pull off and that could be the entire explanation.
It's a merging of two technical companies: one that lets publishers easily stay engaged with and sell to their software users on mobile devices, the other a company that helps put the location of those mobile devices into context with data about the real-world locations they are in.
Update: The deal is confirmed. SimpleGeo's blog post is here. UrbanAirship's is here. Airship CEO Kveton says that Jay Adelson, Joe Stump and Matt Galligan will become strategic advisors to the company. Thirteen employees will stay in San Francisco and UrbanAirship now has 51 people on staff.
Our most important coverage of these two companies over the years is below.
How Urban Airship Saved Tapulous's Bacon on iPhone 3.0 Day
The Incredible Story of Scott Kveton: Linux, Firefox, Bacon & iPhones
Urban Airship's In-App Purchase for Android Goes Live
Mobile Marketing Made Easier & Smarter: Urban Airship Launches New Publishing & Reporting Tools