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Details of the Where To acquisition

by John Casasanta
December 16, 20082 comments


I recently announced that Where To was acquired and that we’d be providing details of the deal. So that time has come and Where To is once again for sale… this time by the new owner.

The bidding process

We had many parties interested in acquiring the app. Successful Palm developers… successful Mac developers… iPhone developers who’ve had limited success in the App Store… serial entrepreneurs… one of our biggest competitors… and of course people just wanting to get in on the Gold Rush of 2008™.

My favorite was the kind of person who was looking for a business that wouldn’t take much effort and pretty much be a money-machine. Since I made it perfectly clear in my post about what it’ll take to make a viable business out of Where To, both in terms of ongoing marketing and development efforts, I found the Delete key to be handy in these instances.

In the end, I narrowed it down to 8 qualified final candidates. I contacted each, explaining that they were all being considered as a potential buyer and requested that they submit their bids.

The bigger ones stalled so I was starting to suspect that this could take a lot longer than I was originally expecting it would.

Sophia and I wanted to have this all completed as quickly as possible since tensions were still very high between us. Once our friendship became more complicated and we got to the point where we felt that we wanted to be done with each other, we both thought it was necessary to get this over with quickly and be free of each other.

So as soon as we received an offer from someone which was at or above our minimum valuation, we were prepared to go for it if we felt comfortable with the buyer.

The buyer

That offer came from a person named Ortwin Gentz. Coincidentally, he was once in a similar situation as we found ourselves in. He recently ended up severing his ties with a business he helped start in a split not unlike ours and was looking to start a new business.

Ortwin was one of the founders of equinux, a long-time Mac developer. They’re most known for their iSale app, which was the recipient of not one, but two Apple Design Awards.

Without a doubt, Ortwin was the highest person on my list of potential purchasers. I still care about the app and I didn’t want to see it just fade off into oblivion, especially if it was acquired by a competitor who could potentially kill it.

Because of his past experience, Ortwin clearly understood what it would take to make things work out with Where To. And he seemed prepared to put in the necessary effort to do so.

So when he submitted his bid and explained the level-headed and reasonable assessment for his valuation, I was satisfied and ready to go for it.

Things didn’t go without a hitch, though… we had some delays because of contract issues and ran into some problems being able to transfer the App Store ownership of the app in a timely manner. So for now it’s still being listed under Sophia’s account. We’re expecting the final transfer to happen sometime after the start of the new year.

Where To available again

Where To?

Ortwin has created a brand named FutureTap for Where To and his future iPhone apps. He enlisted Wolfgang to create a very stylish website and logo that definitely fit the name.

We all decided that in addition to the FutureTap website, it’d make sense to put Where To back up on tap tap tap for a while during the transition period. This can help existing customers find info about it still and can also help from a promotional point of view.

Continued transparency

One thing that I’m happiest about is that Ortwin is very much into being as open as we’ve been with everything. I’ve intentionally not mentioned the purchase price of the app here. I’m sure you’re all curious as to how much it actually sold for and I’ll leave it to Ortwin to deliver on that in his post on the acquisition.

In addition, he plans to provide ongoing details of the whole process. If you’re interested in getting into the iPhone market it’ll be in your best interests to subscribe to his blog or follow him on Twitter. He plans to share his experiences on acquiring Where To and trying to build it into a successful business.

Truly a new beginning

Are we happy with the outcome? Yes.

While I still would’ve preferred to keep control of the app, Sophia and I are now free of each other. I’ve managed to rebuild tap tap tap and I couldn’t be happier with the new team of extremely talented developers I’ve assembled (expect a post on this and an updated About page soon). In addition, Sophia found herself with a new job in the deal as she’ll be continuing to develop new features into Where To.

It was definitely an interesting experience to be involved in the first (public at least) acquisition of an iPhone app. For the remaining details, including the acquisition amount, I’ll pass you off to Ortwin now…

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  1. Dustin
    2:36pm, December 16, 2008

    I’m sure this took up quite a bit of your time, and for that I’m happy it’s over. Your readers/customers have been staring at project code names on the TapTapTap homepage for some time. I’m sure we’d all like to see some previews of things to come, and hear from you (and others) here on the blog more often.

    Hopefully this is a fresh, new beginning for TapTapTap. I look forward to exciting things.

  2. jonau
    11:19pm, March 23, 2009

    any chance you could pop into the dev forum and explain the migration procedure?

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