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Digital Life

Google Bumps Into Mobile App Acquisition

Google Bumps Into Mobile App Acquisition
September 16, 2013 1:24PM

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The app was popular early on but more recently its popularity may have waned and it never developed a real revenue model. As a result of acquiring Bump, Google can incorporate the technology into the Android OS as a native and app-free way of sharing a range of information types, said analyst Greg Sterling.

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Search giant Google has snapped up a mobile startup known as Bump. The company, which had won $20 million in venture capital support from investors like Marc Andreessen and Sequoia, let the world know on its Tumblr blog.

Founded in 2008 and available for Android and iPhone, Bump bills itself as the easiest way to share files between devices. The company also developed Flock, a photo-sharing app that lets people share photos privately and in groups for Android and iPhone devices. There's also Bump Pay for payments.

"Our mission at Bump has always been to build the simplest tools for sharing the information you care about with other people and devices," wrote David Lieb, CEO and co-founder of Bump, in a blog post. We strive to create experiences that feel like magic, enabled behind the scene with innovations in math, data processing, and algorithms."

Flocking to Bump

As the company describes it, there are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on the company's servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone's sensors to literally "feel" the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then Bump routes information between the two phones in each pair.

For its part, Flock finds the photos you take with friends and family and brings them from each person's phone together in a single, shared album. Bump Pay lets you stop writing checks or handling cash. You can settle up with friends right on the spot by just bumping phones together.

"We couldn't be more thrilled to join Google, a company that shares our belief that the application of computing to difficult problems can fundamentally change the way that we interact with one another and the world," Lieb said. "Bump and Flock will continue to work as they always have for now; stay tuned for future updates."

Compelled to Sell?

Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, All Things D pegged the price at between $30 million and $60 million. We asked Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, for his thoughts on Google's latest buy. Despite its apparent popularity, he told us Bump may have been compelled to sell.

"The app was popular early on but more recently its popularity may have waned and it never developed a real revenue model," Sterling said. "Google can incorporate the technology into the Android OS as a native and app-free way of sharing a range of information types."

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