Social network Twitter has long been under fire for some of its internal issues when it comes to products and how engineers work to develop and improve them. Now it’s made an acquisition that could help it improve things on that front. TechCrunch has confirmed that Twitter has acquired and will close TenXer, a platform for developers and engineers to work together better. We have confirmed the acquisition directly with tenXer CEO and co-founder Jeff Ma. And from another very good source we have also confirmed that the price was for under $50 million (we are working on getting a more accurate number).
“We will be shutting down tenXer and continuing our work within Twitter,” Ma told me over the phone. “We are excited to apply what we’ve learned in the last three years to a world-class engineering organization.” After that he clammed up and referred me to Twitter.
Twitter has yet to respond to our requests for comment, which we have been sending to multiple people there for the last eight hours. (Update: Twitter has now pointed me to a Tweet of Ma’s also confirming the acquisition.)
The deal was first reported by VentureBeat, based on a memo that co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Ma had sent out to customers, noting the acquisition and closure; along with a change on the bio of a former employee, who left before the acquisition took place. We actually received the same memo — which we’re copying below — but worried that it was an April Fool’s joke and have been holding out for more details. (Hey, it happens.)
In TenXer’s own words, “tenXer helps engineering leads be better managers. Using the data engineers produce every day (via GitHub, Pivotal, JIRA, etc.), we deliver the key views, stats and insights managers need to be effective and to help their teams be more productive.”
This is actually a pivot of sorts: the company in the past had also worked on pulling in different sources of data to help startups with decision-making but seemingly with a wider remit beyond developers and engineers. It also, interestingly, had some contact with Twitter in the past, serving as the star of a case study touting the benefits of advertising on the platform.
From what we understand, the whole team will be joining Twitter to work on that same challenge. It sounds like it will be specifically for Twitter itself, although there is always the possibility that there will be a service developed for external developers, to complement the investments Twitter is making to provide more tools for that community, for example the launch of the Fabric developer platform. (Update: From what we understand, it’s main and only focus will be as an internal tool, not for external teams.)
There is another interesting twist to all of this: Ma has a pretty interesting background in predictive analytics, which he applies these days mainly to sports but also further back to gambling. Twitter, of course, has been moving deeper into developing its own analytics services, and so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Ma’s skills were put to use here, too.
(He’s also sold a previous startup to Yahoo in the past, Citizen Sports, which was folded into its Sports portal to power fantasy sports leagues and other services.)
It’s unclear how many customers TenXer had, but I would guess perhaps not too many, considering how little noise there was on Twitter or anywhere else yesterday when the note to customers was sent out. (Here is the only mention of it that I could find this morning, for example, from someone as skeptical as I am I guess.)
The company had raised about $5 million with investors including True Ventures, Google Ventures and Khosla.
We’ll update as we learn more.
The note reads as follows:
subject: Twitter Acquires tenXer
tip: Thanks for your interest and support in tenXer.When we first started tenXer, our goal was to improve the way people worked by using data and analytics to increase transparency and visibility. Over time, we have found that tenXer’s tools and expertise are useful for improving productivity within several organizations.We have received very positive feedback from our customers, including an offer from Twitter to join forces. Today it is with much excitement that I announce that the tenXer team will be joining Twitter and continuing tenXer’s mission within the walls of its San Francisco office. We are excited about the idea of taking what we’ve learned over the last three years and applying it to a world-class engineering organization.Unfortunately, this means that our tools will no longer be available to our other customers. We will be shutting down tenXer at the end of the week and will refund any payments on a pro-rated basis for the remainder of the month. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.I want to thank you for all of your support and for choosing tenXer. We are sorry that we won’t be able to continue working with you, but are excited for our future with Twitter.Sincerely,Jeffrey Ma