We now have more details on Facebook’s plans to acquire Bangalore-based Little Eye Labs, an Indian startup whose primary product is a software tool for analyzing Android apps’ performance. Multiple sources have told us that the two companies exchanged the term sheets few weeks ago, and that a final announcement could be made by mid-January. The deal size is expected to be in the range of $10-15 million.
Overall, the Little Eye Labs acquisition fits right into in Facebook’s mobile ambitions, an area where it has lagged rivals like Twitter, despite having some 874 million of its 1.19 billion-strong (September figures) user base logged on via mobile devices. And Facebook has been on the lookout for startups that could potentially help it gain a greater foothold on mobile devices.
As part of its aggressive mobile strategy, Facebook acquired Parse, a mobile-backend-as-a-service startup in April of this year.
A Facebook acquisition of Little Eye Labs would mean a lot for an Indian startup that’s less than one-and-a-half years old, and it would mean much more for the Indian startup ecosystem as a whole, where acquisitions of this profile have been tough to come by. While exploring potential acquirers, Little Eye Labs also pitched to Twitter, but Facebook seemed to offer a better deal, another source added.
One of the sources who shared some details about this proposed acquisition said that if the deal closes, most of the Little Eye Labs’ founding team will move to Facebook’s U.S. headquarters, and work there as part of the mobile engineering team.
Little Eye Labs caught the attention of potential acquirer(s) in Seedcamp, London, where the startup was refining its product along with 20 other companies. Gaurav Lochan, who joined Little Eye labs from India’s largest e-commerce company, Flipkart, earlier this year, had this to say about using the startup’s tool for fixing a bug in Google’s official I/Q app at the event. Flipkart, was also the first customer for Little Eye Labs.
Kumar Rangarajan, co-founder of Little Eye labs, had even acknowledged that the company was in discussions with Facebook earlier this month, after reports of the acquisition first surfaced. However, Rangarajan could not be reached at the time of publication. A Facebook spokesperson, who had earlier declined to offer any comments, has also not responded.
The Little Eye founders — Kumar Rangarajan, Satyam Kandula, Lakshman Kakkirala and Giridhar Murthy, all worked together previously at IBM. They started Little Eye Labs in August 2012 and were part of the GSF Accelerator’s batch from October to December of the same year. In March of this year, the startup raised seed funding of around $300,000 from GSF and Venture East.
A Little Eye Labs acquisition would not be the hugest deal for Facebook, especially when compared with its $85 million acquisition of Parse. But it would be an important enough piece in the social network’s overall mobile strategy. I know of several Indian startups working in the mobile space who hope acquisitions like these will raise the profile of the ecosystem.