Dublin tech firm founders reap $80m in Google deal
Major return for founders and early stage investors who put $19.2m into business Company gives small retailers a way to go online without full ecommerce system
Google has paid a reported $160 million (¤144 million) for Dublin tech firm Pointy that will deliver an $80 million-plus payday for the company’s founders.
Former Ireland rugby star Jamie Heaslip will also see a sparkling return on his investment – one of several tech investments Mr Heaslip has made since retiring from sport. Mr Heaslip, who had a 0.21 per cent interest in the retail technology business will receive $336,000 – many times the sum he originally invested.
Pointy helps small retailers get their merchandise in front of online audiences without having to invest in the sort of systems the likes of Amazon and Walmart use to attract business. The $750 kit is attached to the retailer’s barcode scanner and products are uploaded to the Pointy app as they are scanned, allowing people to find what they are looking for locally rather than forcing them to order online.
Founders Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby hold just over 51 per cent of the business, despite raising more than $19 million from outside investors in recent years.
Mr Cummins holds 26.3 per cent of the business and will receive just over $42 million. Mr Bibby, who holds his 24.8 per cent stake through a company in which his wife is also a shareholder, will get $39.7 million.
Among other early-stage investors were long-time supporter of Irish tech start-ups Noel Ruane as well as Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg and Lars
Rasmussen, one of the founders of Google Maps.
A number of venture capital firms held stakes of close to 10 per cent in the business, including Frontline Venture, Polaris and Draper Associates.
Pointy is Google’s fourth acquisition in Ireland over the past decade.
Google has paid a reported $160 million (¤144 million) to acquire Irish retail tech company Pointy.
The takeout means a spectacular return for founders Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby, who established the company in 2014 and will now share over $80 million for their 51 per cent stake in the business.
Pointy gives small retailers a way to make their stock visible online without having to invest in a full ecommerce system. Retailers connect a “Pointy box” to the shop’s barcode scanner and then use their scanner as normal.
The device is pre-paired with Pointy’s website. The app directs shoppers to where particular items are available locally, rather than pushing them towards ecommerce giants such as Amazon. Once the retailer starts using the scanner, the system uses algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels.
Pointy is expected to continue to operate from its own Dublin offices and develop its product platform.
The deal is set to close in the coming weeks. Neither company disclosed the value of the transaction but London-based Balderton venture capitalist Rob Moffat congratulated the Irish company on its “$160 million exit to Google”, describing it as a “European Xoogler success story”.
In a blog post, announcing the deal, the co-founders said: “The last six years have been an incredible adventure, and today marks the start of a new chapter From small beginnings, we’re very proud to serve local retailers in almost every city and every town in the US and throughout Ireland.”
“By joining forces [with Google], we will be able to help people discover local stores and products on a much larger scale. We think this is the right way to accomplish what we set out to do – to bring the world’s retailers online and give them the tools they need to thrive.”
Pointy has raised $19.2 million (¤17.3 million) from investors over a number of years, including a Series B round in 2018 that yielded $12 million. The takeover means that those investors are likely to make a eightfold profit on their initial investment in the business.
The company has previously partnered with Google, including on a “see what’s in store” feature to help thousands of local merchants display the data within Google. Other partnerships include point-of-sale firms Lightspeed,
Clover and Square.
In a statement, Google said was “excited to share that we’ve entered into an agreement to acquire Pointy . . . that has helped thousands of local retailers bring their product inventory online”.
The company’s investors include Frontline Ventures, Polaris Capital, Draper Associates, Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of Google Maps Lars Rasmussen, Transferwise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Bebo co-founder Michael Birch. Former Irish rugby player Jamie Heaslip also backed the company.
Speaking last year, Mr Cummins said many shoppers prefer to buy an item in a store after inspecting it and speaking with an expert to buying it online and waiting for delivery.
Mr Cummins started Pointy in 2014 after selling his previous start-up Plink to Google in 2010. Plink let users search the web using images rather than key words.
He got the idea for Pointy following a party where he and friends enjoyed craft beer purchased from a nearby supermarket. He wanted to buy the beer but couldn’t remember the name of the store, which got him thinking you can search online for products around the world but you can’t always find out what’s on the shelf at the shop around the corner.
Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby: founded Pointy in 2014