First Data Buys Spree Commerce To Move Into Open Source Payments Technology

Another move by a large company to up its stakes in the world of open source technologies: Payments giant First Data Corporation has acquired Spree Commerce, an open source storefront platform originally based on Ruby on Rails.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed — we are trying to find out — but Spree’s CEO Sean Schofield says in a blog post confirming the deal that First Data will continue to operate the service and that Spree has already started to develop First Data products based on Spree.

“First Data recognizes the important role of open source technology,” Schofield writes. “They are fully supportive of our open source efforts and the Spree project will remain open source.”

While some of Spree’s service will continue going forward, other parts will be shuttered. Wombat, the company’s integration platform for e-commerce backend systems, will be ceasing operations.

“Unfortunately, and with heavy hearts, today we must announce that Wombat operations will be ceasing in Spring next year (March 31, 2016) so that the company can focus on other strategic opportunities,” the company announced in a memo to customers obtained by TechCrunch.

Prior to this, Spree had raised $6.5 million from investors that include AOL (parent of TechCrunch), Thrive, True Ventures, Vegas Tech Fund and others.

First Data, meanwhile, is backed by KKR and has filed for an IPO, which some estimate could be one of the biggest of 2015. The company posted $11.2 billion in revenue in 2014 but is also unprofitable, with a net loss of $26 million in the most recent quarter that ended in June 2015.

This is a step forward both for open source payments and specifically for Spree: First Data’s network covers some 6 million businesses. In 2014 the company processed 74 billion transactions, $1.7 trillion in payment volume and 28% of all e-commerce globally.

There is a question mark now, too, for whether we will see other open-source payment gateways and others in the value chain also continue ahead with the consolidation trend. Other players in the space include Kill Bill, Zuora and OpenACH.

This is First Data’s fifth acquisition. Others have included mobile gift card app Gyft; customer loyalty platform Perka; open source, Android-based point-of-sale provider Clover; and payment security startup Achex.

Other moves from larger tech firms to buy into open source have included IBM acquiring StrongLoop for Node.js expertise — a deal announced earlier this month.