Facebook acquires mobile data compression and analytics startup Onavo

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) acquired Israeli startup Onavo (a 2012 Fierce 15 winner), which helps iOS and Android users reduce the amount of data they consume via their apps. The acquisition fits with Facebook's larger mission of bringing Internet access to developing markets via mobile devices and services.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Israeli newspaper Calcalist is reporting that the deal is in the range of $150 million to 200 million while TechCrunch reported that, according to unnamed sources, the range is $100 million to 200 million. Onavo was started in 2010.

In Android, the Onavo app establishes a VPN connection to the company's content delivery network, which leverages the company's proprietary compression technology, and allows users to dial down the amount of data they consume. For example, users can choose to download only low-resolution images, rather than higher-resolution images that require more data. Once installed, the app slims the data requirements across all the functions of a user's phone, from apps to Internet browsing. The company's iOS app uses a similar setup via the iPhone's configuration profile.

Onavo also has an analytics unit for mobile publishers that allows them to see how well their apps are performing, including against their competitors' apps. The future of Onavo's analytics business under Facebook is not clear. "We are beginning to evaluate the next steps for the Onavo integration," a spokesman told AllThingsD.

In August Facebook forged a partnership with industry heavyweights with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Opera Software, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Samsung Electronics to launch Internet.org, a coalition dedicated to expanding online access via mobile. ''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,'' a Facebook spokesman told The New York Times.

Guy Rosen, co-founder CEO of Onavo, said his company would continue to be run largely as a stand-alone company, similar to two previous Facebook acquisitions, Instagram and Parse. (Facebook bought another Israeli startup, Snaptu, in 2011, whose technology forms the core of the company's Facebook for Every Phone software for feature phones.)

''We're excited to join their team and hope to play a critical role in reaching one of Internet.org's most significant goals--using data more efficiently, so that more people around the world can connect and share,'' Rosen and CTO and co-founder Roi Tiger wrote in a blog post announcing the sale. ''When the transaction closes, we plan to continue running the Onavo mobile utility apps as a stand-alone brand.''

"We are incredibly proud of the talented team we have assembled, and, recognising this, Onavo's Tel Aviv office will remain open for business and will become Facebook's new Israeli office," Rosen and Tiger added. "When the transaction closes, we plan to continue running the Onavo mobile utility apps as a standalone brand. As always, we remain committed to the privacy of people who use our application and that commitment will not change."

For more:
- see this Onavo blog post
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this NYT article

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