By David Ringstrom
Big 4 accounting firm Deloitte started the new year by purchasing Seattle-based Ubermind. The 200-person firm develops mobile apps, e-commerce, and content management solutions for such companies as Apple, Target, Alaska Airlines, TruTV, Amtrak, and REI. The acquisition is designed to complement the range of services that the 180,000 person global services firm provides its clients. Janet Foutty, national managing director of technology at Deloitte told AccountingWEB, "From the boardroom to the living room, and everywhere in between, the next-generation enterprise is upon us. Fusing the art and science of emerging technologies is revolutionizing our clients' businesses - as well as our own. The acquisition combines the creative and technical strengths of both organizations to bring depth and scale to digital strategy, design, engineering, and integration for the marketplace."
Foutty further notes, "With this acquisition, we are now able to offer our clients industry-focused mobile apps, designed from the ground up for enterprise integration and market deployment, to help them address virtually any digital technology challenge in their business - now and toward the future. This transaction amplifies Deloitte's full lifecycle professional services relating to strategy, creative, mobile, web, eCommerce, content, and enterprise mobile enablement to help clients gain business advantage."
The acquisition price hasn't been disclosed publicly, but Seattle-based GeekWire estimates that Deloitte paid in the range of $40 to $50 million for Ubermind. Mobile apps are often described as "disruptive" as they often enable previously unattainable commerce and lifestyle actions. Ubermind's previous projects range from serious to whimsical: the firm won plaudits for the iPad, iPhone, and Android apps it developed for Target, but is also known for the iLightr app that simulates a perennial concert experience. Deloitte isn't the only behemoth moving into mobile development.
Just days ago Walmart acquired Portland-based mobile app firm Small Society. This tiny firm has developed mobile apps for Starbucks, Whole Foods, Amazon, Zipcar, and the Democratic National Committee. Walmart appears to be focused on improving its own online presence. According to a press release from Walmart Labs, "We're here to serve people with busy lives and much bigger concerns than the coolness of our apps. If we provide them a way to save time, save money, and get done with their shopping so they can enjoy their loved ones, we've achieved success."
This nascent acquisition trend may accelerate in 2012 as smart phones and tablet computers continue their race toward ubiquity. For example, it's doubtful that Walmart will have Small Society develop any more mobile apps for Amazon, so another press release may be in the offing soon.