Business & Tech

Fiksu, a marketing tech startup, gets acquired

Fiksu Inc., a Boston-based startup that helped creators of mobile apps persuade consumers to download them, has been bought after running into stiff competition from much bigger tech companies.

Terms of the acquisition by ClickDealer, a marketing agency based in Menlo Park, Calif., were not disclosed.

Fiksu was founded in 2008 and had raised about $17 million from investors. The company said in 2014 that revenue had reached $100 million and that it planned to go public. But by 2015, it was laying off employees and nixing those plans.

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What happened?

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According to Fiksu chief executive Micah Adler, Google and Facebook Inc. came on strong as competitors, offering to help app creators reach the same smartphone users as Fiksu.

“Eighty-five cents of every new online advertising dollar goes to Google and Facebook,” Adler said. “It’s harder and harder for small companies to compete.” Still, he added, “it is a growing market, and every year’s prediction of the growth has been underestimated.”

Adler said it proved tough in 2015 for the company to raise additional funding, but that ClickDealer was enthusiastic about the trove of data that Fiksu had acquired about what apps people download, what triggered them to download them, and how often they actually use them.

“We have around 3.7 billion device profiles,” he says, “and we’ve gotten very good at using that huge data store to drive good results around mobile app installs.”

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In addition to its Boston headquarters, Fiksu has offices in Northampton, San Francisco, and London. Adler said that there are no plans for “significant” changes to the company’s current staffing levels — around 120 employees. The company had once employed about 300 people.

“Fiksu has been talking to potential acquirers for a few months now,” said Christian Galvin, a former sales vice president at the company who left in April.

“The story may not end with a successful IPO as once thought,” Galvin says, “but Fiksu provided a launching pad for many careers spread throughout the mobile ecosystem, many of whom are still employed in the Boston area.”

Scott Kirsner can be reached at kirsner@pobox.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKirsner.