Sparrow Investors not happy with acquisition

Jul 23, 2012
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I just sent out the Rude Baguette Weekly Digest – for those who aren’t on it, go ahead and sign up to the right of the page or here. In it, I gave my thoughts on the Sparrow acquisition by Google, which has had a variety of reactions across the web. Pandodaily cried inside, French tech news sites were stumbling over each other to annoucne the very vague acquisition, despite the fact that it means that not only will France lost some good developers, who are getting ready to move to California as we speak, but it also means that one of France’s more notable successes in the iOS world will no longer receive updates. Here is my excerpt from the Weekly Digest about the Sparrow acquisition:

“What’s the deal with the Sparrow acquisition?”

Now, the commentary that apparently people were actually waiting for, the acquisition story. The story first broke Friday evening, and I was happy to say I first heard about it from Roxanne Varza’s personal blog. The story goes as follows: Google has acqui-hired French iOS/Mac 3rd party mail client Sparrow. The quite expensive iPhone app + Mac desktop mail client had received $250K from KIMA ventures, and had since been downloaded millions of times. During the acquisition, it became quite clear that the Sparrow team would be working on a Gmail mobile client – Sparrow was, afterall, primarily used by Gmail users. This means that there will be no more new features added to the Sparrow applications, which upset many users who bought into the $10 app hoping for a maintained level of quality.

The app remains the best mail client on iPhone, but with the appmakers now flying the Google flag, some users are searching for a Sparrow replacement. The real story, which, again, I’d like to thank Roxanne for pointing out, was that KIMA Ventures, the company’s sole investors, seemed to be a bit upset with the acquisition. KIMA co-founder Jeremie Berrebi released an official 100 character statement from KIMA: It’s “Impossible to build a great and big company when you are looking to sell too fast.” My takeaway from the story is that KIMA tried to talk Sparrow out of selling – after all, the company was profitable. Why sell a hugely profitable startup? – and Sparrow couldn’t resist the undisclosed, under $25 Million purchase price? Some would say that you’re not an entrepreneur if you’re just looking to sell to the highest bidder and not see your product through to the end – others would say “Man, I’d love to get bought by Google.”

We wrote about Sparrow previously, hailing it as one of the best French startups. We are looking forward to seeing what founders Dominique Leca and Viet Doa Hinh will do in the future, in California, France, or elsewhere.