Romanians are smart and creative and people all over the world are aware of this. Romanian tech startups – and other verticals as well – are constantly growing, managing to catch the attention of well-known entrepreneurs and investors. And the best part is that some of them are so impressed by what Romanians can do that they decide to actually buy their companies.
Over the past decade, there have been some very interesting exits in Romania, after some tech giants acquired local companies. So we decided to do a piece about the most memorable ones, focusing on their particularities related to negotiations, intellectual property, team integration as well as other important aspects. So, take a look and don’t forget to get back to this article from time to time. We will be constantly updating the list!
Vector Watch, acquired by Fitbit
Fitbit was on a real buying spree in the last few months! After acquiring Pebble at the end of 2016, they decided to invest in another wearables company, acquiring Romanian startup Vector, founded in 2014, in order to help them develop the first Fitbit smartwatch.
The San Francisco-based company has been present on the market since 2007 and until now, they managed to become one of the most reputed fitness trackers manufacturer, but decided that it’s time to enter the smartwatches market as well!
The main reasons behind Fitbit’s decision to acquire Vector were their software platform and design team, the watches’ impressive 30-day battery life, as well as Vector’s operating system, which features unique specs: like the ability to create watch faces, information streams and discreet notifications.
Brainient, acquired by Teads
Moving on, let’s focus a bit on Teads, a video ad company founded in 2001 and considered to be the inventor of outstream video advertising, which managed to raise $47 million in debt financing in August 2016 and decided to invest part of this total amount in buying startups, as one month later, they announced the acquisition of UK and Romania-based Brainient, a company founded in 2009.
The company managed to attract Teads’ attention with their idea of increasing the engagement, as well as the performance of online video ads, by making them interactive and personalized, according to the user.
Even though this information wasn’t confirmed, Brainient supposedly received an offer of around $10-$12 million initially and they were happy with the return of the startup’s exit, while the founder, Emi Gal, relocated to NYC in order to help Teads Studio sell more into the U.S. market.
Talentbuddy, acquired by Udemy
Through this acquisition, Udemy aimed to accelerate the integration of coding exercises into the Udemy experience and allow its instructors to provide more hands-on lessons for students. The financial details of the deal were not revealed.
eMag, acquired by Naspers
South African media group Naspers paid $83 million in 2012 for a 70% stake in Romania’s biggest online retailer, eMag, a company which began its road in 2001 and shortly became one of the most important players on the Eastern European eCommerce market.
Back in July, the parts decided to keep the terms of the deal undisclosed, but the numbers were eventually revealed. After everything was completed, the rest of 30% were split by eMag general director Iulian Stanciu (21.6%) and development director Radu Apostolescu (8.4%).
Freshome, acquired by Soda.com
Launched in March 2009, Freshome is an online magazine focused on design, architecture, art and creativity. With content being picked regularly by websites like Gizmodo, CNET or The Huffington Post, Freshome attracted the attention of American media company Soda.com, which bought it for an undisclosed amount in 2016.
Founder Mihai Cristian Micle declared that it was the perfect moment for an exit, after he refused several acquisition offers. Freshhome joined Soda.com’s portfolio, which also includes Reviews.com and The Simple Dollar.
MavenHut’s Solitaire Arena & Solitaire Arena 3, acquired by RockYou
Another interesting exit was registered back in 2015, when RockYou, a California-based interactive media company, founded in 2005 and specialized in delivering online entertainment, acquired Solitaire Arena and Solitaire Arena 3 from Romanian tech startup MavenHut.
The deal, which was closed for a price that remained a mystery, was part of RockYou’s ongoing bid to profitably operate games that other companies decided to unload, as well as their plan to expand the company’s reach into social casino offerings.
It’s worth mentioning that MavenHut, founded in 2012, sold just the licensing rights for its two games, so this isn’t a complete exit we’re talking about, but it was definitely an important transaction for Romania, considering that the company managed to create these products from scratch, with a team of just 30 people.
uberVU, acquired by HootSuite
Back in 2014, HootSuite, a platform designed for managing social media sites wanted to expand their business, so they decided to acquire London-based uberVu, in a deal rumored to be valued between $15 and $20 million.
Over 200 companies were using uberVU at the moment of the acquisition, so, by bringing them on board, HootSuite added powerful analytics capabilities to their platform, thus answering the feedback received from customers.
After the deal was closed, uberVU continued offering their service as a standalone product, but with the HootSuite branding, until it was eventually integrated into the bigger platform.
As a side note, both companies were founded in 2008 and this was actually HootSuite’s first acquisition, after raising $165 million in 2013. On the other side, uberVU managed to raise just $586,000, via Seedcamp.
LiveRail, acquired by Facebook
2014 was, apparently, an excellent year for exits in Romania, as Facebook, who doesn’t need any presentation, bought LiveRail, a video ad tech startup, connecting marketers to publishers on the web, as well as mobile, targeting over 7 billion video ads to visitors per month at that time.
Apparently, the deal was closed for an amount between $400 and $500 million and the social network’s representatives declared that they’re planning to keep investing in LiveRail, founded in 2012 and managing to raise almost $12 million, in order to keep it running, while they were also planning to evaluate how to intermingle their data with Facebook’s.
Of course, it was pretty obvious that this acquisition was made in order to help Facebook own a bigger slice of the video advertising market, which is currently one of the fastest growing Internet ad mediums.
Skobbler, acquired by Telenav
Moving on with 2014’s exits, it was the year when, in an effort to improve its navigation offerings, Telenav, a wireless location-based services corporation founded in 1999, acquired Romanian tech startup Skobbler, in a deal estimated at $19 million in cash and another $4.6 million of common stock.
Skobbler was considered one of the European-based companies with the highest rated OpenStreeMap-based GPS navigations in the world, so it was obvious why Telenav, the leader in personalized navigation, wanted to perfect this deal.
The acquisition helped Telenav improve its own products, becoming a bigger contributor to the underlying map technology. Also, their team got bigger, as all Skobbler employees joined their OpenStreetMap project team, in order to add software expertise in location-based services, as well as navigation and mapping.
docTrackr, acquired by Intralinks
docTrackr, one of the companies from Le Camping’s first batch and eventually accelerated at TechStart Boston, was bought by Intralinks, in 2014. The enterprise software vendor, present on the market since 1996, acquired the document encryption service for around $10 million in cash, integrating the services into the Intralinks platform.
Basically, docTrackr was a tool aimed at organizations, helping them secure and track their document. Through Gmail or the company’s web app, users could attach .pdf files, have them encrypted and set access parameters for recipients.
Obviously, this was definitely a big hit for Box, Intralinks’ main competitor, as the service didn’t have a compelling encryption solution at that time. Box was also interested in potentially buying docTrackr, but got beaten to the punch by ‘enterprise dinosaur’ Intralinks.
Axigen Messaging, acquired by a group of Romanian entrepreneurs
In 2014, a group of four Romanian entrepreneurs with investments in the local IT industry acquired Axigen Messaging, a company launched in 2004, part of Gecad group, focusing on delivering top email communication technology, with its technologies being adopted by internet suppliers, telecom operators, as well as foreign companies and even government institutions.
The value of the deal remained confidential, but the investors declared that they were looking forward to continue developing Axigen, in order to provide easier access to the service for clients and complex projects.
Conectoo, acquired by Conversion Marketing
Conversion Marketing, a company controlled by Romania’s largest online retailer, eMag, acquired email marketing platform Conectoo, back in 2014, in a deal whose details remain undisclosed.
Founded in 2008, Conectoo was one of the main email marketing solutions in Romania and, through this acquisition, they provided eMag an advanced technology, allowing the retailer to deliver high relevancy messages through segmentation, retargeting and personalized messages, using information about users’ online behavior, besides offering their clients integrated digital marketing solutions.
Avangate, acquired by Francisco Partners
Founded in 2006 and with over 3000 customers in 100 countries, Avangate was providing complete commerce solutions, helping software and cloud service companies significantly increase their online sales, as well as grow their distribution channels.
With such a background, they managed to attract the attention of private equity firm Francisco Partners, eventually being acquired by them, in 2013.
Avangate was part of Romanian Gecad Group, founded by Radu Georgescu, and the deal was his third important transaction, after selling RAV Antivirus to Microsoft, in 2003, as well as selling Gecad ePayment, to Naspers.
Unfortunately, the financial terms of the transaction weren’t revealed at the time of the deal. However, it was rumored that Francisco Partners usually invests at least $50 million into its deals.
Summify, acquired by Twitter
Twitter was on a real acquisition spree in 2012, as, on January 12, they bought Summify, a platform created in 2010 by Cristian Strat and Mircea Pasoi, two former Google and Microsoft interns, with the purpose of delivering a summary of the most relevant news from social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader, then deliver it by email, web or mobile.
Twitter wanted to compete with Facebook and Google+ through this deal, aiming to deliver relevant news to users’ streams, by using the algorithm behind Summify. The details of the deal were not revealed, but we do know that the service was eventually shut down on June 22, while the founders moved to San Francisco, joining the Twitter team.
CautaReduceri.ro, acquired by Adulmec LLC
Back in 2010, CautReduceri.ro made a surprising entrance on the market, when the deals market was just starting to gain territory in Romania, as the first daily deal aggregator in the country.
Shortly after its debut, the company saw exponential growth and attracted the attention of several investors, being eventually acquired completely by Adulmec LLC, CautaReduceri.ro’s main competitors, controlled by U.S.-based founders, in an undisclosed deal.
Matei Pavel, CautaReduceri’s founder, declared that he decided to sell the deals website in 2012 because it was shortly transforming into a business, while his main interest was launching startups, not focusing on maintaining companies.
Gecad ePayment (now PayU), acquired by Naspers
Back in 2010, South-African group Naspers, a media conglomerate with 1.4 billion euros in annual turnover, bought the majority stake in Gecad ePayment, the first provider of eCommerce solutions for Romanian online stores, launched in 2004. Unfortunately, the value of the transaction wasn’t disclosed.
Businessman Radu Georgescu sold an 83% stake in the company, keeping 17%, alongside his spot in the company’s managing board, the acquisition being made by eCommerce group Allegro, from Poland, controlled by Naspers.
RAV, acquired by Microsoft
Probably the biggest and most important exit from Romania was registered back in 2003, when Microsoft bought the intellectual property and technology assets of GECAD Software SRL, a Bucharest-based antivirus technology provider, founded in 1992.
The deal was secured in order to offer Microsoft customers antivirus solutions, for all their products and services. Also, the software giant used the GECAD engineering expertise and technology in order to enhance their Windows platform, as well as extend support for third-party antivirus vendors.
The terms and conditions of the acquisition weren’t announced.
18. Printivate, acquired by 3D Hubs
In November 2016, 3D Hubs, a company that managed to make a name for itself as the world’s largest marketplace for 3D printing services after just 3 years on the market, announced the acquisition of Printivate, a service specialized in optimizing and fixing 3D models.
Printivate was launched in 2014 at the Spherik start-up accelerator, with founder Adrian Muresan managing to create a technology capable of reducing the time and the materials needed for 3D printing with up to 65%.
After the deal was closed, for a total amount that remain undisclosed, 3D Hubs CEO Bram de Zwart announced that they will now be able to streamline the incoming order flow, by reducing handling and turnaround time per print. Basically, the company is able to take more orders, at reduced costs.
19. TourismGuide.ro and AllSeasons.ro, acquired by NetMedia
Polish company NetMedia, founded in 2006, specialized in offering online tourism services and retail, registering at the time 30 million euro in revenue and an annual growth of 7210%, acquired 70% of C&D Solutions back in 2010. C&D Solutions was the owner of Romanian tourism portals TourismGuide.ro and AllSeasons.ro, this representing their first international deal.
TourismGuide.ro was at the time of the acquisition one of the most visited tourism-centered sites in Romania, with almost 40k unique visitors monthly, one of the main reasons why NetMedia wanted to add it to their portfolio. C&D Solutions mentioned in a statement they made for Wall-Street.ro that they shook hands at 160.000 euro, influenced by the financial crisis at that time.
20. InterAKT acquired by Adobe
Back in 2006, Adobe acquired Romanian development firm InterAKT, most widely known for their very popular Dreamweaver extensions such as MX Kollection, KTML and PHAKT. The company was founded by Alexandru Costin and Bogdan Ripa. One of the reasons behind this acquisition was the fact that Adobe’s been planning an Eastern European development office for some time, and the acquisition of InterAKT was a smart move from a geographical point of view. Besides, behind the company was a great group of highly talented development and QE engineers. And this matters a lot in the tech world!
And this wraps it up! Now you have a short list with some of the most successful exits registered in Romania! We’re convinced that it will keep growing over the next years, since there are a lot of companies out there developing incredible products and services which will definitely manage to attract the attention of tech giants.
By the way, if we missed anything, feel free to ping us at thecrew[at]howtoweb.co and we’ll update the list asap.