NEWS8 February 2011

Mobile research platform Thumbspeak sold to Cint

M&A North America

US— Thumbspeak, the nascent app-based mobile research platform founded by former Greenfield Online and Vovici CEO Dean Wiltse has been acquired by research software and services provider Cint.

Wiltse launched Thumbspeak and its iPhone app in July last year, and Android and Blackberry versions of the app are said to be “just days away from hitting the mobile market”.

Users of the app have to create an account and answer a series of attribute questions before they can start taking surveys, and Thumbspeak clients can use this data to target questions at specific types of users.

Recent revisions to the app have added functionality to enable private, company-branded groups, while introducing the ability for users to manage their profile and update them with additional information to aid the targeting process. Indeed, Wiltse said the app now presents users with the same profile questions asked of panellists within the Cint Panel Exchange (CPX), a sample-buying marketplace.

With the acquisition, Thumbspeak becomes a Cint Group company and will be integrated into the CPX platform as a plug?in for existing and new panel owners, as well as sold as a standalone licensed product under its existing brand name.

Cint CEO Bo Mattson said the company’s initial plan when it came to apps was to look at building its own offering, but it turned away from that strategy after being approached by Wiltse in the autumn to look at ways the two firms could work together.

Mattson said it was important for Cint to remain “agnostic” as regards the technology its panel partners use to create surveys for a mobile audience, and so Thumbspeak will “link up” with other survey tools. As Wiltse remarked in a previous interview: “We do not want to be a survey tool,” he said. “We are all about targeting.”

Promotional efforts designed to encourage downloads of the Thumbspeak app will begin soon, having been “scaled back” recently, according to Wiltse. The software has seen over 100,000 downloads via the iTunes store to date, but Wiltse explained that: “As a start-up, we didn’t have huge awareness and the demand there to keep 100,000 engaged.”

He expects that as part of the CPX offering, and with Thumbspeak expanding beyond the US, into the UK, the Nordics and other markets, it won’t be long until the firm is able to reach over a million smartphones. Within the CPX, which has panel partners in more than 40 countries, there are some five million panellists.