With fresh capital in its coffers, Dropbox appears to be on somewhat of an acquisition spree, albeit a quiet one. Following the cloud storage company’s recent purchase of workplace chat solution Zulip, TechCrunch has learned from sources that it’s in talks to acqui-hire Berlin-based Readmill, the social and shareable reading platform.
According to what we’re hearing, the deal value is around $8 million, made up of mostly stock but with a small amount of upfront cash for the startup’s founders who will be moving to Dropbox in San Francisco. What will happen to Readmill is unclear — I pinged co-founder and CEO Henrik Berggren for comment late yesterday but have yet to hear back so all of this is unconfirmed. However, considering this is a talent acquisition, it’s likely the service will be shuttered or possibly kept going with minimal support in the near term. The acquisition also points to a trend of consolidation and a number of exits coming out of the Berlin tech scene.
Founded in late 2010 by Henrik Berggren and David Kjelkerud, Readmill launched as a social layer for eBooks, making it easy to highlight extracts that can be shared with friends and peers, turning the book into a “social object”. It offers a very elegant reading app for Android and iPhone, as well as a tablet version for iPad. The app also employs a Twitter-like follow model where users can follow books, other users and, crucially, authors.
The company first broke cover at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September 2011, taking part in onstage office hours with YC Combinator’s Paul Graham. At the time the company hadn’t launched yet, and Graham repeatedly told them they should launch now. “Why wait?” he said. Readmill then began offering a limited number of invites, and at the same time announced seed funding from London’s Passion Capital, and Index Ventures to the tune of €280,000.
In 2012, the company raised an undisclosed series A round led by Wellington Partners, with participation by existing investors Index Ventures and Passion Capital. I also understand that Atlantic Ventures (Christophe Maire’s angel vehicle), Peter Read, and Souncloud founders Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss are also investors.
Investors we contacted declined to comment.