As Facebook continues to mature as a platform, the companies working on it are scaling up to meet the challenge of catching attention on a social network now pushing 1 billion users. In the latest development, the UK-based Facebook app developer iPlatform has been acquired by Betapond, as the Ireland-based Facebook marketer looks to beef up its engineering muscle and extend further into the advertising hotbed of London. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The news comes amid a number of other acquisitions of developers and marketers working on Facebook and other social networks — from $300 million+ marketing deals like the acquisitions of Vitrue, Buddy Media and Wildfire — to those focusing more on applications. Facebook itself has been a big acquirer in the latter category, buying up Instagram, Face.com, Threadsy, Acrylic, Karma and Glancee, among many others, spending $24 million on acqui-hires in the first half of 2012 alone.
Joshua March, the founder of iPlatform, says the deal is a sign of how developers are also becoming more advanced as competition for clients, and users, heats up, along with a stronger need to continue growing engagement in their services. “This is a sign of growing maturity in the market,” he told TechCrunch. “Digital agencies are now able to deliver many simple Facebook apps, but the kind of highly sophisticated social technologies that Betapond builds are something else completely and has led to the rise of a new kind of company, where large scale is advantageous.”
Betapond works with large brands like M&S, Unilever, Intel, Avis, Red Bull, Tourism Ireland, The Met Office, Paddy Power to develop integrated Facebook applications, and the iPlatform buy will increase its engineering talent in a city known as a global hub for interactive marketing. It is also being claimed to be the “first” successful exit by a Tech City startup. Tech City is a UK government-led initiative that provides support to startups based in London.
iPlatform, which also works with brand clients like McDonald’s, Google, Gumtree and HP (among others) says it was the first UK-based preferred developer for Facebook. Ironically the news of its acquisition was announced at Facebook’s offices in London. iPlatform in 2010 spun out social media management service Conversocial, which is also run by March. March and his co-founder in both ventures, Dan Lester, will continue to run Conversocial (a competitor to the likes of HootSuite) as it expands in the U.S. on the back of $3.65 million in funding. The rest of the iPlatform team will be joining Betapond.
Betapond, which has raised €1.15m ($1.5m) in VC funding, will have 30 London-based employees by 2013, it says.