WordPress owner acquires Eric Migicovsky’s messaging app Beeper following spar with Apple

Under Automattic’s wing, Beeper aims to continue building “the best chat app on Earth.”

Beeper, the Canadian-founded universal messaging application whose recent dispute with Apple has become fuel for a United States (US) antitrust lawsuit, has been acquired by fellow San Francisco Bay Area technology company Automattic.

Automattic—the firm behind WordPress, Tumblr, and WooCommerce—and Beeper announced the acquisition earlier this week. While neither firm disclosed the financial terms of the deal, Bloomberg News and TechCrunch have reported that Automattic is paying $125 million USD.

“Given the state of the messaging world, we’ve long felt the need for a strong ally with the resources to support us on our quest.”

Eric Migicovsky, Beeper

Founded in 2020 by a pair of Canadian University of Waterloo graduates, CEO Eric Migicovsky and CTO Brad Murray, Beeper aims to simplify messaging through its app for Android, iOS, and desktop, which brings 14 different chat networks, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Android SMS, into a single inbox. Today, the company caters to 115,000 users. Alongside this acquisition, Beeper also announced that it has finally emerged from beta.

Before launching Beeper, Migicovsky founded US smartwatch maker Pebble, which was bought in 2016 by Fitbit, and served as a partner at Y Combinator. Murray worked with Migicovsky at Pebble as firmware engineering manager and general manager of the company’s Canadian office before joining Fitbit as part of the acquisition. He also spent some time working with Kitchener-Waterloo and San Francisco-based Faire.

Last year, Beeper’s efforts to bridge green-bubble Android texts and Apple’s proprietary blue-bubble iMessages led to a fight with the iPhone maker and sparked debate over whether Apple’s control over its ecosystem is justified or anticompetitive. Following a complex game of cat-and-mouse, Beeper abandoned its fight to bring iMessage to Android.

Last month, when the US Department of Justice sued Apple, accusing it of monopolizing the smartphone market, it called the tech giant blocking Beeper an example of Apple controlling “the behaviour and innovation of third parties in order to insulate itself from competition.”

Migicovsky told The Verge that this deal does not mark an admission of failure, but rather a better and more sustainable way to get to where it has always wanted to go.

In a post announcing the acquisition, Migicovsky wrote that it “marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter” for Beeper, adding that the company intends to continue trying to build “the best chat app on Earth” under Automattic’s wing.

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“Given the state of the messaging world, we’ve long felt the need for a strong ally with the resources to support us on our quest,” Migicovsky added. “Automattic has a long history of putting user control and privacy first with open source, and great bilateral relationships with Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Matrix, and others that we hope can usher in a new era of collaboration.”

The entire Beeper team is staying on as part of the deal, and Migicovsky has joined Automattic as its head of messaging.

Per Migicovsky, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg was an early user, supporter, and investor in Beeper, and is “very well aligned” with Beeper’s goal, approach, and independence—Beeper will operate independently as part of Automattic’s “Other Bets” division.

This is Automattic’s second acquisition of a universal messaging app in the last six months, following its purchase of Texts in October. Automattic said it plans to merge the Texts app with Beeper under the Beeper brand.

Feature image courtesy Beeper.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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