Another acquisition for Groupon, and a sign of how the e-commerce company is getting more focused on mobile as a route to future growth: it has picked up Kima Labs, which makes mobile barcode reading app Barcode Hero and mobile payment app TapBuy. The terms of the deal were not disclosed; we’re trying to find out.
The news comes just hours after news broke that Groupon had bought another mobile startup, Hyperpublic, which makes geolocation technology.
As a result of the acquisition, Barcode Hero — according to its site, which confirms that Groupon has purchased Kima Labs — will be closing down its service effective Monday, February 20. That means its iPhone app will no longer be available to download after that date. Those who already use the app will have until March 16 to download their data.
As for TapBuy, it’s not clear yet what will happen with the company’s service: the site still does not make any mention of the acquisition, so presumably users of its location-based deals will be able to continue using the service. [Update on this below.]
Like Groupon, TapBuy offers daily deals, in its case for some 100 brands. It also processes transactions using credit card information provided by users, providing some intelligence behind it by grouping purchases together and adding coupons to purchases.
Kima Labs was founded by Blake Scholl and Jason Crawford, who cut their e-commerce teeth at Amazon.com, among other places, and its main focus is mobile shopping. Scholl has confirmed the acquisition directly to me, too, for what it’s worth.
Kima’s chief engineer, Andrew Miner, is also ex-Amazon. There, he led the team behind Amazon Global, the service that lets users buy from Amazon and merchant partners internationally. That points to this acquisition potentially having a wide remit for the company, which has expanded aggressively outside the U.S. (at a big cost, according to the last quarterly results).
All also worked together at Pelago, which was acquired by Groupon in April 2011. As TC reported at the time, Pelago’s CEO, Jeff Holden, now oversees product development at Groupon. Pelago’s most well-known product was location-based services/check-in app Whrrl.
Kima Labs has an impressive list of backers, including Naval Ravikant, Ron Conway, Owen Van Natta, and a strategic investment from the Washington Post Company.
The Kima Labs acquisition, coupled with the Hyperpublic news yesterday, represents a significant pick-up in mobile activity for Groupon under VP of mobile, Michael Shim, who hopped over to Groupon from Yahoo a year ago — one of the many bright execs that Yahoo lost last year in a spate of departures.
Put together, they give a strong indication of how Groupon sees its mobile future shaping up longer term: yes, the company wants to push good deals to you when you’re on the move and near a point of purchase, but Groupon could be looking to play an even more central role in the bigger opportunity in mobile commerce, too.
Updates: Groupon gave TechCrunch the following statement on the transaction: “Kima Labs has developed popular apps that make mobile transactions easier, more fun and more of a possibility for merchants. We’re excited by the team’s ability to create technology that consumers love, and we believe they’ll be strong assets in our pursuit to change the way people shop.”
Meanwhile, Scholl provided us with the following detail on TapBuy: TapBuy will be wound down as well, “but on a longer schedule that we haven’t announced yet.”