January 4th, 2012
Quintessential Portland iOS shop Small Society acquired by Walmart Labs
Rumors were swirling last night that Small Society—one of the first big players in Portland’s burgeoning mobile startup scene—had been acquired by Walmart Labs, a division of Walmart that deals with social and mobile commerce.
@WalmartLabs, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, has acquired the Small Society team. We will continue to build great mobile apps, but now we will focus all of our attention on a single company – the largest one in the world. Our baker’s dozen team will be joining the existing @WalmartLabs team of five in Portland (and hundreds more located in the Bay Area), committed to growth and job creation here in the city we love. We’re not going anywhere. Portland is recognized as a leader in mobile, with contributions from individuals, startups, and large companies, too.
As we got to know the Small Society founders, they impressed us with their understanding of mobile platforms, their passion for building great products, and their awareness of the unique opportunities for mobile in the retail space. They’ve delivered apps for huge brands, from the Democratic National Committee to Starbucks, all from a small office over a kebab restaurant in downtown Portland. We quickly realized that Small Society could be a potent addition to our existing @WalmartLabs Oregon office.
“Portland?” you say? Yes–Portland! When we acquired Set Direction in April 2011, one of their employees was a crack iOS developer based in Portland. Since then, we have recruited a few more talented developers in the area. Our Portland office works closely with the rest of the team here in Silicon Valley, and together we will deliver world-class experiences for all of Walmart’s global businesses.
“This is a fantastic outcome for Raven and his team,” said Scott Kveton, CEO of Portland mobile peer Urban Airship, a company which Raven advises. “It cements Portland as the capital of the mobile app development ecosystem. I’m super excited for Small Society!”
Small Society was the brainchild of Raven Zachary—the guy who helped create iPhoneDevCamp before the iPhone was even open for development and who served as the project lead on the Obama iPhone app—and James Keller—who boasted substantial digital agency experience including a stint at Wieden+Kennedy. The company was designed to be an agency that designed and built beautiful functional applications for iOS devices. Or to be more exact, iPhone apps. And then later iPad apps.
And they exceeded that goal by any estimation.
The team at Small Society landed a number of high profile clients, building the original Starbucks app, the WordPress app, Amazon Gold Box app, and the Democratic National Committee app. With the paramount—in my opinion—being the opportunity to debut their ZipCar app on stage at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
I’ll continue to research this story. But in the meantime, congrats to James, Raven, and the entire Small Society team! This is huge news.