Mobile Development Startup Xamarin Bought by Microsoft

File this under least-surprising acquisition of 2016: Microsoft said today it is buying Xamarin, a San Francisco- and Boston-based company that builds tools for mobile-app development. Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed; it’s expected to close in the next month.

Rumors of an acquisition by Redmond, WA-based Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) previously surfaced in 2014. The deal is a pretty obvious fit: Xamarin has focused on helping Windows developers use the C# programming language to build apps for the iOS and Android operating systems, among others, and the companies have been partners for some time.

Xamarin was co-founded in 2011 by Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza. The pair of software whizzes had previously teamed up at a company called Ximian, which was bought by Novell in 2003. (See Friedman’s blog post here.)

Xamarin had raised about $82 million in venture capital. Its investors include CRV, Ignition Partners, and Floodgate, and its most recent round ($54 million Series C) was announced in 2014.

Reached by e-mail, Ignition partner John Connors says, “This was a very good outcome for Xamarin team, Microsoft, and investors. Xamarin had very rapid and consistent growth over four years in all dimensions—revenue, customers, and most importantly for Microsoft, developers. Xamarin customer satisfaction scores were incredibly strong.”

Connors, a longtime Microsoft executive before joining Ignition in 2005, adds: “Microsoft emerges as the leader in enterprise mobile development overnight and takes a big step in Satya [Nadella’s] mobile-first, cloud-first strategy.”

Microsoft senior executive Scott Guthrie, from the company’s cloud and enterprise group, wrote in a blog post today that Xamarin counts 100-plus companies in the Fortune 500 as customers. Those companies include Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell, and JetBlue.

Guthrie added: “Microsoft has had a longstanding partnership with Xamarin, and have jointly built Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our Enterprise Mobility Suite to provide developers with an end-to-end workflow for native, secure apps across platforms.”

Xamarin has been expanding in recent years, in part through the acquisitions of companies like RoboVM (for Java development) and LessPainful (in mobile user-interface testing).

Note that may be of interest only to me: With the Xamarin deal, three of my top 5 “next great Boston tech companies” (chosen in 2014) have now been acquired. GrabCAD and Runkeeper were the other two.

Benjamin Romano contributed reporting to this story.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

Trending on Xconomy