RIM Buys Gist To Help Manage Contacts in BlackBerry Smartphones

2/14/11Follow @xconomy

The early scuttlebutt was right on the mark. Seattle-based Gist, which was reportedly in talks to be acquired by Research in Motion back in December, has closed the deal and agreed to be sold to the giant maker of BlackBerry smartphones.

Gist, which makes software to help people keep track of their contacts online, said today on its website that it has become part of Waterloo, Canada-based Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM). Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. GigaOm first reported that an acquisition was in the works back in December.

Gist CEO T.A. McCann told TechFlash today that all 20 employees of Gist will stay on with RIM, including McCann, who will become a vice president. I’ve heard no word yet on how big of a return this might represent for Gist’s venture backers. The company, founded in 2008, took in a $4 million financing from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and the Foundry Group back in July 2010. That was a year after the company’s $6.75 million Series A round.

RIM has long been a major force in the wireless business, but has seen its early strength in market share eroded by a competitive onslaught from Apple’s iPhone, handsets based on Google’s Android operating system, and now Microsoft’s latest entry, the Windows Phone 7 platform. I have sent in a few questions to Gist founder T.A. McCann about this deal, and how he thinks Gist can help strengthen’s RIM’s offerings in the current competitive landscape.

“We are extremely excited about our future at RIM and how Gist will be used by millions of BlackBerry users around the globe,” Gist’s Robert Pease wrote in a post on the company blog. “This is a huge step towards our goal of utilizing the web-based Gist experience to allow users to build stronger professional relationships.”

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