Sources Say Pivotal Labs Has Been Contemplating a Sale For Years, Wants To Scale to ‘Sapient-Levels of Huge’

Pivotal NYC (via foursquare/connellmcgill)

Update: Pivotal Labs was acquired by EMC Corporation.

Late Monday night, Om Malik, GigaOm’s top (and only, as far as we know) Om, broke the news that Pivotal Labs was in talks to be acquired.  The San Francisco-based company, which Mr. Malik described as “one of the smartest Web consulting firms, known for its pioneering work in agile development,” he said, is “in talks to be acquired” by a large technology company.

Pivotal currently has offices in San Francisco, Boulder, and, of course, its beloved local outpost in Union Square, which frequently hosts Skillshare classes and, until recently TechStars NYC. Pivotal has an interesting business model. It helps technical teams from clients like Groupon, TaskRabbit, and even Best Buy and the Associated Press by working in tandem with Pivotal staffers. After a few months, they leave with progress on their product and training in agile development so they can do it all over again.

“The thinking behind this move,” a source familiar with the company told Betabeat, “is to scale pivotal to Sapient levels of huge,” adding that Pivotal SF was up for sale. (Sapient is a publicly-traded interactive services agency.)

Another source familiar with the company, who also requested anonymity, mentioned Sapient randomly as well. The source said he had talked to former VP of technology Ian McFarland about selling Pivotal numerous times “through the years.” Read More


Rapportive Admits It Was Acquired By LinkedIn, But Will Keep Its Gmail Plugin

Rapportive Linkedin

Welcome to today’s edition of news you already knew! On its staff blog, Rapportive confirmed that oh yeah, it actually has been acquired by LinkedIn . . . just like AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes reported 15 days ago.

For those of you who’ve been stumbling around your inbox blind, Rapportive is an incredibly handy browser plug-in (it only works with Gmail right now) that shows you information about the person you’re emailing with–like their photo, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook–right from your inbox. Back in September, CEO Rahul Vohra said Rapportive was being viewed by 65 million contacts per month.

Today Mr. Vohra offered a bit of temporary relief for Rapportive’s loyal fan base (Betabeat was enthusiastically introduced last year by a friend who shares our love of knowing more than everyone else whenever possible). “We have fantastic news: at LinkedIn, we will support Rapportive, and we will continue to build beautiful products that make you brilliant with people.”

That might dispel “acqui-hire” rumors, but we all know what happens to nimble products under big company umbrellas. Read More


Fab Goes Euro Flash: Acquires Casacanda and Relaunches It as In Germany, Austria, And Switzerland


Another month, another milestone for master pivoter Jason Goldberg and his go-go daily deals for design startup, Fab. Today, the company announced that it has acquired Casacanda, a Berlin-based flash sales company. Along with the acquisition, Casacanda will relaunch as as, serving Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Last November ccTLDInvestors, “the online magazine for global domain investors” noted that a company called Sedo made a tidy profit by selling for $50,000. That same week, Fab also purchased for 35,000 Euros, so expect more updates for Fab’s fabulous European adventure.

According to Mr. Goldberg, Casacanda has been on something of a roll. The site has 250,000 members and grew by 90,000 in just the last 30 days. Add that to Fab’s existing membership, and the company has won over more than 2.3 million users in the past 8 months. Read More


They Did It All for the Data: Groupon Buys Hyperpublic

Mr. Cooper. (

Hyperpublic, the two-year-old startup helmed by Lerer Ventures partner Jordan Cooper, has been acquired by Groupon for an undisclosed price.

On Friday, Mr. Cooper teased the news with a few ellipses on Twitter before linking to the announcement. “Today is an INSANE day! We are so proud to announce that Hyperpublic has been acquired by the rocket ship that is Groupon,” Hyperpublic wrote. “This is a huge win for our team, our investors, and everyone who contributed to our company over the past two years.” Then there was a party at The Standard, natch. Read More


TopGuest Went to Cali and All It Got Was This Strategic Exit


Considering a move to the West Coast, but not sure if you should do it due to all the Alley-boosting blog posts in Betabeat and your Tumblr feed? Here’s an Alley-to-Valley success story for you. TopGuest, a New York startup that launched in the beginning of 2010 to add social and mobile features to consumer loyalty programs, just had its big exit: an acquisition by San Francisco-based global customer service software company ezRez for an undisclosed sum.

CEO Geoff Lewis moved out to California with his two co-founders about a year ago to work on TopGuest, which raised $2 million and sported Peter Thiel as an advisor and Silicon Valley all-stars Keith Rabois and Ron Conway as angel investors, according to AllThingsD. Read More


First Interview: Chris Dixon Talks eBay’s Purchase of Hunch

If you like these glasses, you may enjoy my blog

When it comes to big data and personal recommendations, Hunch and eBay are a match made in heaven. Both work with mountains of unstructured data and hope to improve user recommendations through social signals.

At least, that is what Chris Dixon and eBay CTO Mark Carges had to say in a phone call with Betabeat this morning, following news of the acquisition. But the pair laid out a compelling case for why the purchase makes sense.

“eBay is a very unique retailer,” Mr. Dixon said. “When grandma posts a sweater for sale, it doesn’t have a metadata to help sort and identify it. In working to understand user’s taste on the open web, this is the challenge we have been solving at Hunch.”

Something like 70% of items on eBay don’t have traditional metadata like product IDs. “We have been working with our own data on consumer behavior to power recommendations,” said eBay CTO Mark Carges. “Hunch brings in some really complimentary work that they have been doing with social signals.”  Read More


The Agony, the Ecstasy, and the Karaoke: Twitter Reactions to the GroupMe/Skype Acquisition


When the news broke yesterday evening that Skype acquired hometown start-up GroupMe, New York’s digerati took the party to Twitter. Indeed the acquisition and its hefty price tag, which Betabeat’s sources pegged between $50 million and $100 million, caused such a stir among a certain swath of tech circles that “GroupMe” even made into a New York City Twitter trending topic last night–albeit below penetrating questions plaguing tweeters such as, “Chris Brown OR Justin Bieber.”

The deal was the first major exit for Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital and BoxGroup’s David Tisch, so much of the tweeting action consisted of ebullient pats on the back. But a few notes of skepticism arose from the din. In case you were too busy watching Libyan rebels end a 40-year dictatorship, here’s what you missed. Read More


GroupMe Bought by Skype for More than $50 Million

Jared and Steve, two awesome, SMS, totally same size bros.

GroupMe just celebrated its one year anniversary, and founders Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht certainly had something to smile about. A deal in the works for months was just completed, with global VOIP giant Skype acquiring GroupMe for an undisclosed price north of $50 million.

The two co-founders have scored positions at Microsoft but will run the company from New York. And while GroupMe will remain independent, it is likely to become core to Skype’s efforts in mobile, SMS and social. Skype’s over 560 million global users will certainly do a lot to boost GroupMe’s profile and user network if the two companies are deeply integrated. Read More