Social networking giant Facebook has agreed to purchase Israeli startup Onavo to help it try and reduce the cost of mobile data use as part of its Internet.org campaign to make it easer for people all over the world to get online.
Onavo, which was founded in 2010 and employs 40 people, develops a service that compresses data on its own servers before sending it to mobile device users, thereby reducing data usage and expense. The firm also markets a business product, called Insights, that provides data analytics services based on the data it collects from users. No price for the deal was made public but some reports have placed at least $100m on the deal.
Facebook said the purchase would enhance its own mobile services in addition to helping with its major Internet.org campaign, which seeks to get internet coverage to the most remote and under-privileged places on earth.
Onavo's blog post on the buyout said: "We're excited to join their team, and hope to play a critical role in reaching one of Internet.org's most significant goals – using data more efficiently, so that more people around the world can connect and share."
Facebook was equally effusive about the deal: "We expect Onavo's data compression technology to play a central role in our mission to connect more people to the internet, and their analytic tools will help us provide better, more efficient mobile products."
The acquisition is significant for Facebook's operations in the Middle East, as it intends to not only keep the Onavo office open, but also turn it into its Israeli office, according to Onavo.
Earlier this year, rival firm Google made its own contribution to the Israeli startup scene, buying the Waze mapping service. The $966m purchase has however come under significant scrutiny from both Israeli and UK bodies, with Google forced to make concessions that include not integrating the company into its own products and services.
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