Facebook Buys Israeli Startup in Play for Mobile Space
Facebook has bought Israeli startup Onavo, a company that specializes in apps that compress data to improve the performance of smartphones. Analysts we’re reading say the acquisition could aid Facebook in developing its own products for mobile devices. It could also aid Internet.org, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s campaign to expand Internet access to the developing world. The sale price is reported to be between $100 million and $200 million.
Onavo, which was founded in 2010, has two parts to its business: a consumer-facing apps to help optimise device and app performance and battery life on iOS and Android devices; and an analytics business for mobile publishers to chart how well its own apps are performing, and to chart that against apps of its competitors. It had raised some $13 million in venture funding from investors like Sequoia, Horizons Ventures, Motorola and Magma Venture Partners.
The rationale for the deal is easy to see on a few levels.
Facebook has been focusing on building up its mobile business, which is seeing the most growth and is the platform that most users in developing markets are turning to first when signing up for and using the social networking service. So this means beefing up Facebook’s mobile operations in general, but also for making Facebook as usable as possible in these emerging markets. Today, Onavo’s technology is focused only on smartphones rather than feature phones, but what it does on those devices is help users track how well those devices work, in terms of battery life and so on.
Onavo’s core technology uses proxy servers to reroute and compress your mobile data. The company also offers standalone apps like Onavo Count, which claims to offer a more accurate view of your data usage than other apps. The company’s Insights product is particularly interesting — with its close view of how exactly people use apps, it can reveal things like retention and usage figures that normally only the publishers themselves can access. Making that information a bit more public is valuable for the competition (and reporters like me).
And from The New York Times Bits blog:
The big draw for Facebook is Onavo’s pioneering data compression technology, which helps smartphones cut data consumption as much as 80 percent. Such compression is vital to the goals of Internet.org, an organization started by Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, in August that is trying to offer mobile Internet access free or at very low cost to the about four billion people globally who do not have it.
‘‘We expect Onavo’s data compression technology to play a central role in our mission to connect more people to the Internet, and their analytic tools will help us provide better, more efficient mobile products,’’ a Facebook spokesman said.
Last, here’s the Associated Press writeup of Facebooks Onavo acquisition:
JERUSALEM (AP) — Facebook says it is acquiring an Israeli mobile technology startup and opening its first office in Israel.
Facebook said in a statement Monday that Israeli mobile utility application developer Onavo would help the social media giant create better mobile products and help connect more people around the world to the Internet.
Onavo was founded three years ago and produces technology that compresses content so mobile users can use more data. The Tel Aviv-based company also has an office in California.
Israeli media reported that Facebook is buying the company for more than $100 million and that it was Facebook’s largest acquisition of an Israeli company. Facebook declined comment.
Facebook has bought two Israeli companies in recent years, but employees were transferred to Facebook’s U.S. headquarters.