This is no J-curve
To be honest, I'm pretty unimpressed by Nokia's acquisition of Dopplr
Their intention is good: Location-based social networking is all the rage and represents a massive opportunity ... if not the
opportunity ... for anyone involved with mobile. Their choice, however, is rubbish: Besides a small group of loyalists, does anyone still use Dopplr? Their service has failed to evolve over the past year, and their user base has flat-lined.
Emerging competitors are much better. In my opinion, the truly social, location-based networks (like FourSquare
) have the edge. In other words, services who put the social part first and then use technology like GPS and mobile to activate it
Mike Butcher has written some very good background and guesswork/analysis on TechCrunch Europe about the acquisition: Congrats to Dopplr? Maybe. But before the champagne, some context
Get a load of this: Martin Varsavsky (FON), Joichi Ito, Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Saul Klein (TAG), Esther Dyson (Angel), Tyler Brűlé (Meeja), Thomas Glocer (Thomson Reuters) and Lars Hinrichs (Xing). I mean, good grief, most startups would kill and maim to have that kind of board. As good as this purported exit is, clearly these people thought Dopplr would go way, way bigger than a €15m exit.
Why Nokia? Well, here’s a thought: a significant part of the team were ex-Nokia. Dopplr cofounder and CEO Marko Ahtisaari was previously the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia. Various tech people were from Nokia and interface designers Matt Jones, who recently left, was ex-Nokia.
Mike is critical of their 'quick and dirty' iPhone app as well as their Compete stats, which pretty clearly show a company whose growth has stalled, rather than one in J-curve growth, as one expects from a start-ups with significant traction in the marketplace.
The follow-up article is also worth a read. Dopplr confirms being acquired by Nokia
, Robin Wauters, TechCrunch Europe.
One thing Nokia is
getting is a bunch of smart people (some ex-Nokia, as mentioned by Mike). One of the first to be mentioned is the ex-CEO of Dopplr, Marko Ahtisaari, who has been appointed to head Nokia’s Design department
Maybe it is just me, but €15m seems like a lot to pay for a business with flat growth with better competition, despite a bunch of talented people, some of which you are effectively rehiring.