This is a strange story. Rumors circulated today that Silicon Valley based startup Ribbit was acquired by British Telecom, and VentureBeat ran with the story. The company later denied the rumors, but wouldn’t comment on whether or not merger discussions were occurring or not.
The strange part is this – while Ribbit executives are denying the acquisition to the press, they’ve simultaneously been (quite happily) telling all their friends that BT has acquired them for $55 million, says a source who’s heard the story.
BT plans to use the Ribbit platform to build out a GrandCentral competitor, they’ve said. GrandCentral, a service that manages all of your phone services, was acquired by Google in July 2007 for $50 million. Since the acquisition, however, GrandCentral has gone nowhere – no new features and intermittent down time are the only GrandCentral milestones over the last year.
From past experience, this suggests a deal is in the process of closing but isn’t legally done yet, which gives executives the ability to deny acquisition rumors. But like most leaks, the company getting bought just can’t not tell their friends (loosely defined) all about it. Confidentially, of course.
Ribbit has raised $13 million in capital.