Charlotte voice-to-text startup Yap quietly acquired by Amazon
Posted on 9 Nov 2011 by Justin Ruckman
Yap’s first and only branded consumer product, Yap Voicemail, was a Google-Voice-like transcription app available for iOS and Android. I used it for over a year, ever since it was in private beta. So I was surprised last month when I received a notice that the service was to be discontinued, effective in only a matter of days.
I knew the company was a lot more than its consumer app, with “IP in every iPhone and Android device” as Igor once told me. But as one of Charlotte’s most notable startups, I had to know: what did this spell for Yap’s future?
A lot, apparently.
Though an acquisition isn’t yet public, SEC filings show that as of September 8, Yap Inc. was acquired, by way of Yarmuth Dion Inc., with the surviving corporation having a mailing address that just happens to be at Amazon’s Corporate Headquarters in Seattle.
Financial details of the acquisition were, of course, not disclosed, but I’d wager they’re sitting well, based on the scope of Yap’s IP, and Amazon’s apparent lack of any voice recognition technology in even their newest Kindle devices.
This is great news for Igor and Victor, the Jablokov brothers who founded Yap in 2006. They’ve set a fantastic example for Charlotte, a city with a rapidly growing tech/internet entrepreneurial community (see: Packard Place, Queen City Forward, Charlotte Startup Weekend, Hackerspace Charlotte, etc.), one that is eager for proof that locally-grown tech startups are worth investing in.
Yap joins an elite list of Charlotte tech startups with blockbuster exits:
- Jigsaw (which technically isn’t native as they relocated from California) had a $142 million exit to Salesforce in 2010. Jigsaw’s product, now completely integrated into Salesforce, crowd-sources company contact records for use by sales professionals.
- Venetica, a startup whose content management technology enabled various applications to access and interpret unstructured data like documents, images, web pages, etc., was acquired by IBM for somewhere between $10–50 million in 2004.
- LendingTree, an online home loan provider, was acquired by USA Interactive (now IAC Financial Services) for $734 million in stock in 2003, and later spun off to join Tree.com, a parent brand to a portfolio of online real estate businesses.
Last month the Atlantic ran a special report called Start-Up Nation: A trip through the South in search of the next Silicon Valley. The editorial-slash-road-trip practically skipped over Charlotte entirely, yet managed to hit the likes of Chatanooga, TN; Savannah, GA; and Shreveport, LA.
Maybe next time they can drop by the Queen City for a spell.
Download the complete acquisition filing here (PDF). Previous coverage of Yap here and here.