Urban Airship’s Strategic Partnership With SimpleGeo Turns Into An Acquisition

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Back in November of 2009, former Digg Chief Architect Joe Stump and Social Thing founder Matt Galligan first publicly unveiled their new startup, SimpleGeo, which was slated to become the new infrastructure for location-based services. They called it the “Amazon Web Services” for location, offering products that make it easy for developers to build location-enabled web and mobile apps, including storage, context, API features, and polymaps.

Less than a year later, in March 2010, SimpleGeo was closing in on a terabyte of geodata stored, had grown their staff to 13, and launched officially to the public. A year later, the startup initiated their “grand unveiling”, which revealed what they’d been focused on over the last year, which was SimpleGeo Storage: A hosted database that allows developers to store and retrieve location data. And since it was hosted, it allowed developers to outsource their infrastructural issues issues and was distributed using Cassandra, so there’s no single point of failure.

But, then in August, SimpleGeo Co-founder Matt Galligan decided to step down, deciding to take some time off to do his own thing as well as become a West coast advisor to the TechStars incubator and launch 1% of Nothing, which asks founders to give 1 percent of their earnings to charity in the case of a liquidity event.

Well, SimpleGeo now has that opportunity, as Mike Arrington reports that SimpleGeo has been acquired by Urban Airship for approximately $3.5 million. In July, the two companies formed a strategic partnership which was intended to, put simply, provide better ways for developers to offer location-aware push notifications in their applications. Geo-targeted notifications were expected to be a big source of revenue for both startups, but it seems that it just made more sense for the companies to move forward as one rather than as two separate entities.

SimpleGeo has raised $10 million in outside investment since 2009, with its first angel seed round including quite a few big names like Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Chris Sacca, Timothy Ferriss, Shawn Fanning, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Urban Airship, which was founded at about the same time as SimpleGeo, has itself raised $6 million to date from the Foundry Group and True Ventures to make it easier for mobile app developers to offer push notifications.

As Mike points out, this is indeed a “soft landing” for SimpleGeo and most of the proposed cash will likely go towards paying off the last round of investors. It seems a low exit for a startup that was once very promising, especially as it is being led by current CEO and serial entrepreneur Jay Adelson. It also remains to be seen what Urban Airship will be doing with that terabyte-plus of data SimpleGeo has in stock.

SimpleGeo has confirmed in a blog post here — as has Urban Airship.

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship, will remain the Big Kahuna, and Jay Adelson, Matt Galligan, and Joe Stump will join as advisors. Urban Airship, Kveton tells me, has seen revenue grow 600 percent in 2011, has a team of 38, which will now become 51. The teams will be meeting this week to discuss plans for the future and finalize the acquisition. But Kveton said that Urban Airship, as a Portland-based company, is excited to establish a presence in the Bay Area. And with the businesses bearing so much resemblance, it was a “natural extension” for Urban Airship.

Kveton declined to comment on numbers, but all signs point towards $3.5 million being, at least, in the ballpark.