Twitter’s Boston Acquisitions: Crashlytics Tops $100M, Bluefin Labs Close Behind
People are talking about Twitter’s Boston-area acquisitions today. Some more than others. Unsubstantiated rumors and prices are flying around like so many careless tweets. Whom should you believe?
Answer: Xconomy (and me). Hey, I’m sticking my neck out here.
Independent of other media reports, I have it on good authority that Twitter is acquiring Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge, MA-based startup working on social-media analytics around television. The price I’ve heard is in the neighborhood of $100 million, maybe a little less. Not too shabby. Bluefin Labs started in 2008 out of the MIT Media Lab and has raised about $20 million in venture funding from the likes of Time Warner Investments, SoftBank Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Acacia Woods Ventures, and Lerer Ventures.
At least one media outlet suggests that Bluefin is Twitter’s biggest acquisition to date. My sources say that is false.
Here’s why. Last week, Twitter acquired another Cambridge startup, Crashlytics, which does mobile software and bug-fixing for app developers. Sources with inside knowledge tell me that deal is worth more than $100 million in cash and stock.
That number will be a surprise to most people. It blows out of the water the notion that the deal was a relatively low-priced talent acquisition of a young company. Crashlytics has only been around since 2011; it has raised about $6 million from Flybridge Capital Partners, Baseline Ventures, and a lineup of angel investors who are household names in Boston tech. I’m hearing that those angels got a higher-than-10x return on their investment, plus some of their original money back (because the company apparently didn’t spend it). The VCs aren’t complaining either.
Neither Bluefin Labs nor Crashlytics have responded yet to requests for comment on their respective acquisitions or terms.
In any case, it appears Crashlytics is Twitter’s largest purchase to date, followed by Bluefin Labs, at least in terms of their enterprise value—i.e., what they’re worth today, not counting milestones or retention fees. (By comparison, TweetDeck went for less than $50 million.)
What does all of this say about the future of Twitter in Boston? Well, it sounds like the San Francisco social-media giant is making a large investment in the Northeast, across mobile devices, TV, and analytics. There will probably be more to this story soon, if and when Twitter decides to talk about its strategy. In the meantime, maybe a company like Facebook should pay more attention to Boston.
On second thought, maybe not.
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