Facebook Acquires Data Compression Expert Onavo

Andrew Klips  |

Facebook (FB) is acquiring mobile utility application and data compression developer Onavo, according to a blog post on the Onavo website made by co-founders chief executive Guy Rosen and chief technology officer Roi Tiger. 

An upstart formed just three years ago, Tel Aviv, Israel-based Onavo has about 40 employees and two dimensions to its business.  One is consumer oriented with apps for iOS and Android devices to optimize performance and the other is business-centric, called Onavo Insights, with an analytics program to help mobile publishers delineate performance as compared to competitors.  Onavo’s data compression technology helps cut smartphone data consumption by up to 80 percent.

A purchase price was not disclosed, but reports have varied from $100 million to $200 million.

The acquisition dovetails with Facebook’s efforts to expand and monetize its mobile business, especially in emerging markets. 

“We’ve built world-class products and a remarkably talented team which has pioneered important breakthroughs in data compression technology and mobile analytics. Today, we’re eager to take the next step and make an even bigger impact by supporting Facebook’s mission to connect the world,” the founders said in the blog post.

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Both PC World and TechCrunch reported that a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, "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.”

Two months ago, a group of tech companies, including the likes of Facebook, Samsung, Nokia (NOK) and Qualcomm (QCOM) , joined together and launched internet.org, an initiative focused on making the internet affordably accessible to the two-thirds of the world that currently isn’t connected.  The companies pledged to share knowledge, develop projects and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online.

Onavo says it is passionate about the goals of internet.org to bring the internet to the next five billion people.

This is the third acquisition of an Israel-based company for Facebook.  In 2011, the social media giant bought phone interface developer Snaptu for $70 million.  In June 2012, it bought facial recognition company face.com for about $55 million.  Facebook is reported going to open its first office in Israel at the Onavo headquarters.

Shares of FB are lower by 1.3 percent in early Monday trading as part of pressures on the market in general relating to ongoing gridlock in Washington regarding the budget and debt ceiling.  Over the past year, Facebook as regained investor confidence, surging to record highs and gaining about 160 percent in the past 52 weeks.

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