Urban Airship Acquires Tello, Maker Of PassTools For Apple”s Passbook, Because Not All Brands Need Fully Featured Apps

However, to serve the needs of larger enterprise customers, the company began quietly offering access to an API a few weeks ago. With the API, businesses could build the template using the same process as above and then programmatically plug in data into various fields on the fly. There are only a handful of customers now using that API, none of which the company can reveal at this time. These include customers in the retail space, a major telecom, and various ad agencies working with coupons. More details on these efforts will be announced in Q1 2013.

The two companies, Urban Airship and Tello, shared a common investor with True Ventures, which is how Tello founder and CEO Joe Beninato was first introduced to the team at Urban Airship. This was also one of the reasons why Urban Airship went with Tello over the other competitors in the space, as the investor had already performed a certain amount of due diligence on their end. But as Urban Airship CMO Brent Hieggelke explains, there were other reasons why the deal with Tello made sense, too. “We were just really impressed with Joe and the team, we liked the approach they were taking, and felt very comfortable that they were the right guys, with the right level of maturity and experience. Culturally, they fit in well, and there were just a lot of those intangibles,” he adds.

As for the PassTools integration with Urban Airship’s core product, that’s still a ways out. Although Hieggelke says he would “love it” to be early next year, there’s no way to put a time stamp on that at this point because the deal is just now wrapping, and the two teams haven’t even begun to discuss integration plans. What he does know, though, is that there’s growing demand among Urban Airship’s customers for such a service. “We were in the phase of really listening to customers [about Passbook] and we started hearing the groundswell for Passbook,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it’s been a raging forest fire, but it’s been a slow, methodical pick up in terms of people – as they start internalizing what Passbook can do, they start to get really excited.”

He also explains that Urban Airship’s expertise in push notifications and location will benefit customers looking for a Passbook solution. More importantly, perhaps, is that Passbook support opens up the doors for an entirely new set of potential customers for the company.

“There’s a whole wave of things coming,” agrees Beninato. “It’s just going to take a little time for agencies to figure things out, and for the brands behind that to see why this could be so powerful.”

The PassTools website in its present form will remain running until the Urban Airship integration is complete. No decision has been made on Tello’s previous product yet. Meanwhile, Tello’s five-person team will establish itself as the new Urban Airship office in Palo Alto, which is in addition to UA’s headquarters in Portland and its San Francisco location. Urban Airship currently has 65,000 accounts, and sees a few billion notifications on its platform per month.