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Softonic acquired US-based AppCrawlr for $6 million amid company’s turmoil

softonic layoffs
Written by Jaime Novoa

Following the announcement of massive layoffs at Softonic, Novobrief has learned that the Barcelona-based startup acquired US-based AppCrawlr for $6 million to improve its mobile strategy.

softonic acquisition appcrawlr

Times at Softonic have changed dramatically over the past few months. Once known as one of the biggest internet companies to come out of Spain, the software recommendation site will soon fire 200 of its 450 employees as a consequence of shady business practices and plummeting revenues following the cancellation of advertising contracts with Google.

Employees affected by the layoffs are trying to make their voice heard on social media and various news outlets, as highlighted on this article published on El País last week. Softonic’s employees complain that the company is not willing to negotiate a higher severance pay, limiting the offer to the minimum required by Spanish law (25 days per year at the company). According to sources close to the situation, the company justifies this decision by claiming that they don’t have much money available and that banks are not willing to offer them a loan given their bad financial situation.

As Novobrief published at the time, employees were informed of the decision to layoff half of the company’s staff moments prior to the announcement of the acquisition of a Silicon Valley startup that specializes on scraping mobile app stores.

Can AppCrawlr keep Softonic afloat?

softonic acquisition appcrawlr

Softonic’s employees protesting outside of its headquarters in Barcelona.

The Barcelona-based company has declined numerous times to provide any kind of information about the startup, but sources close to the deal have revealed its name (AppCrawlr) and its price ($6 million).

Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Novobrief has not been able to confirm if it was a cash or stock deal. We’ve reached out to both companies and we’ll update this story if we hear back from them.

AppCrawlr is owned by TipSense LLC and was created by the founders of WeatherBonk and Dishtip.com, a product that focuses on food discovery. The technology behind AppCrawlr belongs to San Francisco-based TipSense, a company founded in 2009 by David Schorr that provides content discovery services.

AppCrawlr not only identifies trending apps to recommend them to users, but it also shows an app’s best and worst features based on users’s opinions on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. It also allows consumers and mobile developers to compare various apps across a wide range of categories.

Here’s how AppCrawlr’s technology works, according the company’s own website:

Unlike other search sites that rely on keyword matching and are not able to fully leverage the concepts and signals buried in the vast amount of user generated reviews, AppCrawlr uses a new method to combine advanced data mining and statistical modeling technologies to provide users with the most relevant and trusted recommendations for searching and discovering apps.

Discovering new applications, understanding the general trends of what features users like and don’t like, comparing similar applications based on a multitude of factors are just some of the reasons why AppCrawlr is the most comprehensive search engine for discovering mobile applications.

According to Similarweb, Appcrawlr had 7.6 million visits in November and is one of the top 3,600 websites in the US. Most of its visitors come from the US, UK and India; markets that might be of interest to Softonic, whose mobile revenues peaked at 10% of all income in 2013.

The lack of a clear mobile strategy has proven to be one of Softonic’s main disadvantages in today’s world. The company was founded in the late 90s when mobile app stores were years away from being important, and the company was never able to establish a strong mobile presence in an economy that is dominated by smartphones and tablets.

Softonic has been pretty quiet over the past few weeks regarding it situation, offering no clues as to how they’re going to come back on its feet and improve its current situation. AppCrawlr might be a piece of the puzzle, but it will be interesting to see if the decision to pay around $6 million for a startup will come back to haunt them in the future. Especially at a time when 200 employees are about to be laid-off.

About the author

Jaime Novoa

Jaime Novoa is the Founder of Novobrief.

He is a technology writer turned investor at Madrid's K Fund. He was also a data analyst at Tech.eu.