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Prototyping App Marvel Acquires Design Tool Plexi

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Marvel, the U.K. startup that lets you turn sketches into mobile and web app “prototypes”, has acquired design and animation tool Plexi. Terms of the acquisition remain undisclosed. However I understand that as part of the acquisition, Plexi co-founder Colm Tuite is joining Marvel to develop Plexi’s main features within Marvel’s prototyping and design platform.

“We’re acquiring the technology which is a browser based interface UI/UX design tool and animation engine. The team behind Plexi are joining Marvel to continue to work on the tool as a core feature of the platform,” Marvel co-founder Murat Mutlu tells me.

Plexi is pitched as a design tool that enables users to create animated and interactive designs directly in a web browser. The idea being that designers — even at the prototype stage, it seems — not only want to see and show how an app will look/function but also how elements will move.

Meanwhile, adding Plexi’s functionality to Marvel’s offering plays into the mission of the Index Ventures-backed startup to become the defacto platform to prototype apps and then bring those prototypes to life.

“We’ve said in the past that we want to lower the barrier to prototyping and our iOS/Android apps do a great job of that by enabling users to use paper sketches as well as high-fidelity designs. However our web app has never had the same ability, ” explains Mutlu.

“A large number of users come into Marvel and want to start making, but don’t want to learn or download complicated software to do that. In addition, animations have quickly become a core part prototyping. People don’t just want to see how things look, but how they move too. That’s where Plexi comes in. From CSS export to in-page animations, it’s extremely powerful.”

The big picture, therefore, is for Marvel to eventually “own the design workflow, from ideation, inspiration, prototyping and collaboration.” It already lets you turn sketches into clickable app prototypes, and recently launched a free user testing feature (that integrates with Lookback) and its own prototype sharing community.

As for how the acquisition came about, Mutlu says that Plexi came up on the team’s radar around a year ago when it was in private beta.

“After following its progress we reached out to Colm to chat about how to work together and just clicked. Colm has an amazing eye for detail and lives and breathes this stuff. You can’t create something like Plexi without that passion so it’s exciting to have the team join Marvel,” he says.