Yesterday, we wrote about Urban Airship, the startup that gives developers a simple way to build in-app purchases and push notifications into their mobile apps, and how the company has been on a tear of late. They recently hired Skype’s former strategy czar and yesterday hit 10 billion notifications pushed. Not bad for a two-year-old.
On top of that, Urban Airship acquired SimpleGeo at the end of October for approximately $3.5 million. Considering that the two startups had some months before struck a strategic partnership, and both provide location-based services for mobile developers, the acquisition made sense, even if the price was lower than many had hoped. (And SimpleGeo Co-founder Joe Stump left the company post-acquisition, following Co-founder Matt Galligan.)
At the time, it was unclear what Urban Airship would be doing with the terabyte-plus of SimpleGeo location data. Today, that became clear. Simply put, it looks like it’s curtains for SimpleGeo’s services. Urban Airship said this afternoon, after the requisite internal discussions, talks with customers, and hand-wringing, that it will “wind down the availability of the current versions of [SimpleGeo's] Places, Context, and Storage over the next few months”.
The target date for pulling the plug officially will be March 31st. Obviously, this is not good news for SimpleGeo’s customers, so in order to make sure its customers aren’t left out in the cold, the company said that Factual will be picking up the slack. The LA-based startup will be migrating developers over to its service, as the company offers its own API with location information, similar to that which was provided by SimpleGeo. A loss for SimpleGeo means a win for Factual.
Factual has been providing SimpleGeo with their Places data since June 2011, so Urban Airship hopes that it will be able to facilitate a smooth transition to Factual’s API to continue with access to that data. Urban Airship is also offering customers an additional list of replacement services here.
Furthermore, the startup will not be charging for use of Places, Context, or Storage services through March 31st, and will be offering existing SimpleGeo customers up to six months of its Pro Plan for no monthly charge. (More here.) Smacks of a bit of guilt, doesn’t it?
Urban Airship said that it is basically determined to focus on its product development efforts, which means that it will be taking the best parts of SimpleGeo to beef up the location and context capabilities of its push notifications, while the rest is for all intents and purposes kaput. This wasn’t unforeseen considering the departures from the company post-acquisition, but it’s probably not what the SimpleGeo founders had in mind a year ago.
For more, here’s Urban Airship’s blog post.