The ladies and gents at Dropbox have big dreams - look no further than their recent expansion into email and photo gallery apps for evidence of that fact. And like any company with high aspirations, they're snapping up technology and the associated talent at a fast pace. In the last 18 months the company has bought e-readers, photo tools, and even a Craigslist-style marketplace. Today they've announced the acquisition of two more apps and the companies that make them.
Amazon already owns the most popular brand for ebooks, having debuted the Kindle ages ago and attracted consumers and publishers alike before other big players managed to establish a foothold in the industry. Now the company's going after comics. It could continue to expand its library of Kindle editions, but the speedier approach would be the buy the best competitor out there. So that's what Amazon is doing. The company has just announced plans to acquire comiXology, the makers of a popular digital comics platform, not to mention a couple of great Android comic book reading apps.
Most people rely on Amazon, Google, Barnes and Noble, or some other all-in-one ebook service for their digital literary fix, but there is a thriving community of users who prefer the flexibility and lack of DRM that comes with independent reading apps. This has led to more than a few excellent choices in the space, including Readmill, an ebook app dedicated to simplicity and readability. Apparently Readmill users aren't the only ones who were impressed: Dropbox has acquired the app (or at least hired the employees who made it) and the service is shutting down.
The big news in the wireless business this week has been AT&T's upcoming purchase of Leap Wireless, which the FCC approved yesterday. The deal has been in the works since July of last year. That leaves AT&T in an interesting spot, since it now owns the CDMA-based Cricket Wireless, which directly competes with the budget-focused Aio sub-brand. Apparently AT&T prefers the more established brand, because the company said it will combine the assets of both under the "Cricket" name.
Flipboard was already making headlines today after finally adding the option to sign into the Android app with Google+. But it looks like they'll soon have a lot more headlines to choose from, namely the ones that constantly appear on CNN.com. Flipboard announced this morning that the company will be partnering with the venerable TV and web news service, bringing both standard and international news to the platform with featured channels.
Facebook's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp was certainly yesterday's biggest story when it came to web and social news. But according to Amir Efrati of The Information, there's an interesting backstory that didn't make it into the financial pages. He reports that six months ago, Google offered to pay WhatsApp to notify the larger company if they received an acquisition offer from anyone else. While an exact amount hasn't been disclosed, the deal was reportedly worth "millions of dollars."
The Information's anonymous sources say that WhatsApp declined the offer - surely a hard pill to swallow for a startup company, even one with the fantastic number of users that WhatsApp boasts.
An international mega-corp like Google buys companies like the rest of us buy coffee. Google's latest latte is SlickLogin, a startup that aims to make authentication simpler and safer by using sonic login codes on phones. The details of the purchase aren't public just yet, but SlickLogin's site confirms that "the [team] is joining Google."
SlickLogin's system is unique: it uses a cell phone as an authentication key with the help of nearly-silent audio codes sent via computer speakers.
Rakuten is often referred to by western media as "the Amazon of Japan." That description seems more and more apt given some of the mega-retailer's recent purchases, including Canadian e-reader company Kobo. Yesterday Rakuten announced that it had purchased Viber, an up-and coming voice-over-IP company with apps on Android, iOS, and Windows, among others, for a whopping $900 million.
Viber is primarily a Skype competitor, though it also offers text and picture messaging, group chat, and cross-communication between mobile and desktop operating systems.
Yesterday social gaming giant Zynga purchased NaturalMotion, developers of notable mobile games including the CSR Racing series, Backbreaker Football, and the official Jenga game for iOS and Android. TechCrunch reports that the $527 million purchase includes $391 million in cash and 39.8 million shares of Zynga stock. NaturalMotion operates offices in London, Oxford, Brighton, and San Francisco.