FullContact buys Brewster’s technology after team got acqui-hired by Burger King owner RBI

Back in October, we wrote about how the team behind contacts management app Brewster got acqui-hired by RBI, the owner of Burger King and other fast-food brands, where they would work on building tech for RBI and maintain Brewster, which was not part of the RBI deal, as a side project.

Today comes some news for a landing place for Brewster itself: it’s been acquired by FullContact, another startup focusing on cross-platform contact management. Based out of Denver, FullContact plans to integrate several parts of Brewster’s existing and unlaunched technology into its main product.

And as part of that, Brewster, backed by VCs including Union Square Ventures, will be shutting down in 30 days. Brewster’s users will be given the option to make the switch to FullContact — they will not be automatically migrated, Bart Lorang, co-founder and CEO at FullContact, said.

If they choose to make the move, users who were paying for Brewster’s premium tier will have access to FullContact Premium for the remainder of their Brewster contracts. Those who were using Brewster’s free service will have the option of taking three months of the FullContact Premium free of charge. (Or they can switch over to FullContact’s free tier.)

Steve Greenwood, the founder of Brewster who is now RBI’s president of digital, said that Brewster had started conversations with FullContact at some point soon after the RBI deal went through. “It’s a natural fit and a great end to the journey for Brewster,” he said. “A lot of things overlapped nicely, and some things that we worked on will be a complement to the FullContact roadmap.”

One feature of particular interest, Lorang pointed out, is Brewster’s self-updating address book technology, which will be getting incorporated asap, he said.

Brewster was an early mover in the realization that contacts books would become a messy affair in the smartphone world, with people developing networks of people that would largely be siloed based on whatever app they happened to be using, or even the phone itself, or their email. Its technology — based around some intelligent analytics — automatically sifted and integrated your disparate contacts in a pain-free way, and the app saw a flurry of interest when it first launched.

But the unrelenting march of technology ultimately left Brewster behind. You could lay the lame on a few different forces: among them, competition from other apps (like FullContact); native apps from Apple and Google/Android updating with more dynamic and functionality; and the fact that Brewster just wasn’t picking up enough users.

FullContact seems to have weathered some of those hurdles a little better by looking to embrace any and all places that people may work, and focusing more on the enterprise and professional markets rather than Brewster’s primary consumer focus. The company’s apps work across iOS, Mac, Android, Gmail, and the Web; and they support two-way sync between iCloud and multiple Google email accounts, with support for Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange coming in April, the company says. 

Brewster never disclosed final user figures for its app, and FullContact’s Lorang only goes so far as to say that its subscriber numbers are “well into the seven figures,” declining to break out how many of those are paying for the service.

This is FullContact’s third acquisition, after buying Cobook in 2014 to build out its universal address book technology; and nGame in December 2015 to add on some marketing tech for salespeople using its app to manage customers and potential leads. The company has raised $24 million, with investors including 500 Startups as well as Colorado stalwarts Foundry Group and Techstars.