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WordPress.com owner Automattic acquires multi-service messaging app Beeper for $125 million

WordPress.com owner Automattic is acquiring Beeper, the company behind the iMessage solution on Android that the Justice Department named in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The deal, valued at $125 million, is Automattic’s second acquisition of a cross-platform messaging solution after it acquired Texts.com in October last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The acquisition makes Texts.com founder Kishan Bagaria Automattic the new head of information, a position that will now be filled by Beeper founder Eric Migicovsky, the former founder of Pebble smartwatches and a Y Combinator partner.

Automattic said it has begun the onboarding process for the Beeper team and is “excited” about the progress made so far, but has not revealed more information about its organizational updates or Bagaria’s new title. However, we’re told he’ll also be staying on to continue working on Beeper.

Image Source: buzzer

Migicovsky said the Beeper and Texts.com teams, consisting of 25 and 15 people respectively, will join forces to leverage the strengths of both companies’ products and merge them into one platform.

“[Texts.com] “We built an amazing app that’s more desktop-centric and iOS-centric,” he said. “So we’re going to take the best parts of that and put them into our app.” But going forward, the Beeper brand will apply to all of Automattic’s messaging efforts,” he said, adding, “Kishan… I’ve known him for years — there’s not a lot of other people in the world doing what we do. Do — it’s great to be able to join forces with them. “

The deal, which closed on April 1, represents a major bet by Automattic that the future of messaging will be open source and run across services, rather than being tied to proprietary platforms like Meta’s WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage. In fact, Migicovsky said that after moving people to the Beeper cross-platform application to manage messages, the ultimate plan is to move them to Beeper’s own chat protocol, an open source protocol called Matrix.

Image Source: buzzer

Automattic previously made a $4.6 million strategic investment in another Matrix-based company, Element (formerly New Vector), and contributes annually to Matrix.org.

Matrix is ​​a “spiritual successor” to XMPP, as Migicovsky describes it, providing an open source, end-to-end encrypted client and server communication system in which servers can federate with each other, similar to open source Twitter/X Replacement Mastodon. However, it’s not focused on social networking like Mastodon, but rather on messaging.

Migicovsky said the acquisition was made because it costs a lot of money to run Beeper, and now it’s either time to raise more money or find a buyer. Beeper has raised $16 million in external funding to date, including $8 million in Series A funding from Initialized. Other investors include Y Combinator, Samsung Next, Liquid2Ventures and angel investors Garry Tan, Kevin Mahaffey, Niv Dror and SV Angel Group.

“I know Matt [Mullenweg, Automattic founder and CEO] “We are looking for partners who can financially support this project,” Migicovsky said, adding that the WordPress.com founders have been working on open source technologies such as Beeper, with about half of its products already open source. One of the reasons no one else is building such an application is that it costs a lot of money to build a really good chat application,” Migicovsky noted.

As for Beeper’s products, the company has now informed the Justice Department of what happened when Apple blocked its new app, Beeper Mini, which was designed to bring iMessage to Android. Due to Apple’s actions, this solution is no longer updated.

Image Source: buzzer

Beeper for Android rolls out to everyone

Instead, the company released an updated version of its core Beeper app on Android. Unlike Beeper Mini, which focuses solely on iMessage, the main app connects to 14 different services, including Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Instagram DM, LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Discord, Google Messages, and more. Android is its most popular platform, with 70% of users using Google’s smartphone operating system.

In a rewrite of Beeper, the company began rolling out fully end-to-end encrypted messaging on Signal. WhatsApp, Messenger and Google Messages will soon follow.

Migicovsky said that due to Apple’s restrictions, iMessage can only be used if you have an iPhone, and considering the complications caused by Apple shutting down Beeper Mini, iMessage will not be the focus of Beeper. However, Beeper hopes regulations will change that, pointing to the Justice Department lawsuit and the FCC investigation. At the same time, Beeper supports RCS, which solves problems with iMessage to Android, such as low-resolution images and videos, lack of typing indicators, and encryption.

With the beta launch, the new app includes new icons, updated design, instant chat opening and sending, the ability to add and modify chat networks directly on Android (no desktop app required), local cache of all chats on the device, and complete message search.

There are already 10,000 Android beta testers on Beeper who need to manually download new apps from Google Play – it won’t update automatically.

In addition, approximately 466,000 people on Beeper’s waitlist can now try the product. They will join more than 115,000 users who have already downloaded the app, which is currently used by tens of thousands of people every day. The app runs on Android, iPhone, iPad, ChromeOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux.

The team expects to make sweeping improvements to the iOS and desktop apps within a few months to achieve feature parity across platforms.

Over time, they plan to add other services to Beeper, including Google Voice, Snapchat, and Microsoft Teams. Beeper also provides a widget API so that developers can build on top of Beeper. In addition, because Matrix is ​​an open standard, developers can also build alternative clients for Beeper.

The app will generate revenue through a premium subscription, which could end up costing a few dollars per month, but pricing decisions haven’t been fully determined yet. Beeper is currently free to use.

Like Automattic, Beeper’s team is remotely located in Brazil, the UK, Germany and the US, with employees spread across Brazil, the UK, Germany and the US. For now, Texts.com will continue to operate as the team begins integrating the two messaging apps.

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