RIM In Talks To Buy Gist

14 Comments

RIM (s RIMM), 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 (s AAPL) and Google (s GOOG). 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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14 Comments

Andy Traub

Gist is a great service but it seems to be lacking a portal. I think RIM could REALLY benefit from Gist because GIST’s power lies in USING the service, not just compiling the information. I love that GIST exists but I don’t want to use the web interface. I’d MUCH prefer it to be on my cell phone. This is good stuff and GIST deserves it. They have a great service that is much more “address book on crack” than “CRM” like HighRise.

Ben Kepes

Gist are a great crew, TA McCann is an awesome guy (and a pretty good runner as well!) but a purchase by RIM? Sounds like the kiss of death to me, second only to Y!

Debunker

How is it a kiss of death? Care to elaborate or is it simply because you’re a hater. Hating RIM is so trendy, right?

Ben Kepes

Hater? I’d consider myself neither a fan-boy nor a hater-boy, merely someone who gives a viewpoint based on a broad perception of the marketplace.

It seems to me that RIM has failed to innovate in the past few years and their heady days of being “the cool thing” have long gone. Not being cool is one thing, but when enterprise users, like the ones I speak with, yearn for the day when hey can ditch their “shitty old blackberrys” and replace them with an iOS or Android deivce… well that’s telling….

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