Acquisitions / Business / Technology

Artisan Mobile acquired by Tune: ‘We just weren’t growing fast enough’

CEO Bob Moul says Artisan was too early for its time.

Artisan CEO Bob Moul. (Photo by Aidan Un)

It’s official: Artisan Mobile is getting acquired by Seattle mobile marketing company Tune. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The news comes just over a week after it initially leaked.
Why was it the right move?
Artisan CEO Bob Moul was frank.
“We just weren’t growing fast enough to continue to make it on our own,” he said on the phone yesterday.
Moul, who joined the company in 2012 and led it to a $5.5 million Series A, said he realized that about 18 months ago.

When I joined Artisan I wanted to build a big software company in Philadelphia. We obviously came up short on that.

Artisan had launched an A/B testing product for mobile apps, but, he said, it felt like Artisan was too early for the market (timing is a frequent startup killer). People were more concerned with “What should my app do?” rather than “How can I optimize my app?”
About one year ago, a “major cloud computing company” that Moul declined to disclose approached Artisan to discuss an acquisition. At the time, Moul wasn’t thinking about that as an option. But, as the year went on and Artisan struggled to get traction, he started engaging in acquisition talks with other companies, including Tune.
Tune’s a good fit, he said. The company, which employs more than 300 around the world, helps mobile apps build a user base — something that Artisan didn’t do (they focused on the second half of the puzzle: engaging and retaining users).
Artisan’s director of product development Dan Koch will become Tune’s director of mobile marketing automation. He and a few other Artisan staffers are moving to Seattle to join Tune, but many of the startup’s staffers have already taken leadership roles with other local startups. Artisan employed 15 at the time of the acquisition, Moul said.

As for Moul, he’ll help with the transition over to Tune. He’s not sure what he wants to do next, though he is certain he wants to stay in Philadelphia and keep working with the tech scene here.
“I’m in no rush,” said Moul, who was on his way back from a vacation to the Poconos when we chatted.
Though he said he felt good about getting Artisan to this point, he said he does feel disappointed. It feels important that someone like Moul, the former president of Philly Startup Leaders and a frequent face of the tech scene, is willing to talk about failure.
“When I joined Artisan I wanted to build a big software company in Philadelphia,” he said. “We obviously came up short on that.”

Companies: Artisan Mobile
People: Kevin Jackson / Bob Moul / Chris Baglieri

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