RIM, the company behind the iconic mobile-messaging platform BlackBerry, is said to be in talks to acquire Seattle-based startup Gist, according to industry sources. While the deal is said to be nearly done, there is always a fair chance that the two parties might not come to an agreement. The deal terms are not available at this time. I am waiting for comments from
both Gist and RIM. Gist VP of Marketing Robert Pease emailed a response: “We don’t have any comment on your story.”
Gist, much like rivals Rapportive and eTacts creates profiles of people in your business network by using publicly availably information from sources such as Rapleaf, a San Francisco-company that has been receiving close scrutiny for its data collection techniques. This profile data is available any time someone emails you.
Gist, which is led by CEO T.A. McCann (ex-Microsoft), was started and initially funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. The company launched in 2008 and raised $6.75 million in Series A funding from The Foundry Group and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. In a recent news release, Gist claimed that it had 100 million social business profiles. The company makes plugins for popular email clients such as Outlook, Lotus Notes, Google Apps and it also has apps for iPhone and the Android platform.
For RIM, the idea behind acquiring Gist would be to possibly re-invent the phone address book and make it integral to its core offering. It would actually make a lot of sense for RIM to do this, as it plays to its core strength – namely, messaging. By making the address book more networked and more social, RIM can build a social inbox, much like the one being championed by Facebook.
RIM has become acquisitive in recent years, especially as it has started to face intense competition from more Internet-savvy rivals, Apple and Google. It acquired Dash for $3.8 million in 2009, and followed up with Torch Mobile and earlier this month it acquired Swedish design-house, The Astonishing Tribe.
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