TweetDeck set for US takeover deal

TweetDeck, one of the most prominent companies in east London’s Silicon Roundabout= tech cluster, is close to agreeing a $30m (£19m) takeover deal by Silicon Valley’s UberMedia, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

More than 20m people have downloaded TweetDeck’s free software for updating and managing social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, after launching in 2008.

It is being courted by California-based UberMedia, which has recently acquired several other Twitter tools and services.

TweetDeck and UberMedia did not respond to requests for comment.

UberMedia, formerly known as TweetUp, is part of Idealab, a Californian business incubator founded by Bill Gross. Mr Gross’ previous ventures include Overture, a provider of search-engine advertising technology that was sold to Yahoo in 2003 for $1.6bn and inspired the business model behind Google.

The acquisition of TweetDeck, which is being finalised but could be completed within the next month, is likely to be in a combination of cash and shares in UberMedia.

Even though TweetDeck is yet to make significant revenues, the transaction would value the company at $25m-$30m, marking a significant return for investors, such as the Accelerator Group, Betaworks and ProFounders Capital.

TweetDeck has raised $3.5m in funding, most of that in summer 2009, providing a fast return for investors.

Such a deal would also provide a boost for the government’s “East London Tech City” scheme to stimulate entrepreneurship, which was announced by David Cameron, the prime minister, in November.

TweetDeck is one of several UK-based companies to have built a business on the back of Twitter, including Twitterfeed, a publishing technology, and DataSift, which provides analytics.

TweetDeck shares offices in east London’s Shoreditch with other technology start-ups, such as GroupSpaces and SoundCloud, which they rent from, an online printing company.

Last year saw Twitter release a new design for its website that incorporated many functions, such as improved searching and viewing of photos, previously only available through third-party software, such as TweetDeck.

In recent months, UberMedia has acquired UberTwitter and EchoFon, popular tools for updating Twitter from smartphones such as BlackBerry, iPhone and Android devices, although TweetDeck is likely to be its biggest deal yet.

UberMedia also provides advertising and marketing services for social networks. Mr Gross hopes to build a group of third-party developers and services large enough to make Twitter take notice.

Twitter’s attitude to external developers providing services based on its platform has become less friendly in the last year as it has striven to build up its own advertising system.

Last week, another east London tech company, Saffron Digital, was acquired by HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone company, for £30m, to enhance its mobile video capabilities.

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