Burstly, the makers of an in-app ad management platform called SkyRocket and the parent company of popular mobile app testing platform TestFlight, has been acquired, we’re hearing. Though we’re working to get more information on this now, including deal terms, our understanding is that Apple is the acquirer here.
We’ve been pointed in Apple’s direction by a few of sources, and it makes sense as several odd things have been going on with TestFlight in recent days.
On Wednesday, TestFlight announced it would be terminating Android support as of March 21, for example, while also announcing that it was discontinuing its TestFlight SDK. According to support documentation, only existing teams will be able to continue to upload builds with the SDK. New users and those who have never uploaded the SDK are now being asked to remove it from their builds.
The company also shut down FlightPath, its mobile analytics solution that entered into beta last year, following the Burstly/TestFlight tie-up. Links to FlightPath now redirect to the TestFlight homepage, and this seems to be a recent change.
@antons Ah I see, just got a popup dialog when going there. Luckily I didn’t use that part of TF. pic.twitter.com/OF4uGdlJ8b
— Andreas Karlsson (@andreasjk) February 18, 2014
FlightPath, which replaced the company’s “TestFlight Live” solution announced at the time of the original acquisition, was part of the two companies’ bigger vision to “change the app ecosystem” by combining forces. The mobile analytics market is still young enough to make room for new players like what they had in store with FlightPath, so seeing it close up shop in under a year is very odd. And definitely not the kind of product change that should have flown under the radar.
Odder still is how these product announcements – which greatly impact the company’s mobile developer user base – have been handled so far. There’s been no mention of them on the TestFlight changelog, for example, no company blog post, no emails, and no mention of them on social media channels – that is, unless you count the replies to confused developers from @testflightapp, the company’s main Twitter account. Developers are being asked to reach out directly to the company via an email form instead of being given a more useful public reply.
Burstly has a history of keeping its deals quiet, though. The company had actually acquired TestFlight in Q4 2011, but kept the news under wraps until former TechCrunch writer MG Siegler broke the story on PandoDaily in March 2012.
Before buying TestFlight, Burstly raised $7.3 million from Upfront Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, Softbank Capital and others in seed and Series A funding.
What’s interesting now is what Apple may have planned for the company and its engineers, who are already at Apple, we hear. By nature of Apple’s closed platform, where apps have to go through stringent reviews before being published to the App Store, the company has allowed for an ecosystem of third-party mobile app-testing platforms like TestFlight and HockeyApp to thrive.
Some developers have worked around Apple’s limitations by utilizing Apple’s enterprise app deployment platform to work with a larger base of testers. And more recently, Apple tried to address the testing problem by expanding the number of app promo codes from 50 to 100. The benefit here is that promo codes can be distributed to testers, like press and reviewers, before the app goes on sale for the general population.
We’ve reached out to Burstly and Apple for comment, but haven’t heard back.
Update: Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet provided the following, which is as close to a confirmation as Apple ever gets:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Note: This post was updated to clarify that the acquisition has already taken place, as opposed to being “in process.” The Burstly team is at Apple already, we hear.