I've known the principals behind Reqwireless since 2003 and Google got some excellent people with this deal. The core team was very small, but they did a great job in building Reqwireless and developing their software. I'll now be able to say that the first Waterloo company that I brought in a Toronto VC to meet with ended up being acquired by Google.
What the deal will mean to the community remains to be seen, but it's cool to have Google in town. We don't get many $125 billion companies dropping by ... certainly not with Google's cachet. They haven't announced yet what the plans are for the local site. Adobe -- which is bigger than RIM -- been here for years and hardly anyone knows about it. We had Cisco and AOL and HP here in the past, so it's too early to speculate on what this might mean long-term.
Some background: Reqwireless was founded in 2001. The principals are UW grads. The company's WebViewer and EmailViewer had become -- partly by accident -- very popular applications in the Java-based mobile device market, which was just beginning to take off. It had raised about $400,000 in seed funding by mid-2003. The company didn't intend to be in the business of selling applications in a retail market, but people around the world were willing to pay for the products and Reqwireless ... for a while ... was happy to accept their money. By mid-2004 it was looking at either bringing in more investment or being acquired. By the end of the year, there were some offers on the table. The deal with Google was made a few months later but not announced. The July edition of the Waterloo Tech Digest reported that Reqwireless had been acquired.
Google was tight-lipped about the deal, and only made its presence in Waterloo known officially a few days before Christmas. There had been speculation for months -- about both Google and Reqwireless, although not necessarily together.