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AppHub acquires Reviews.io for $72M

Illustration of three cellphones, each with a "like" icon, in a shopping cart.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

E-commerce tech provider AppHub acquired review publisher Reviews.io for $72 million, co-founders and co-CEOs Arjun Batra and Kris Eng tell Axios exclusively.

Why it matters Bootstrapped startups that didn't raise money at lofty valuations are having an easier time striking an agreement on price during a time when M&A is down overall.

Details: The deal's total purchase price is being financed with a combination of cash, debt and shares in AppHub, Batra and Eng say.

  • Conversations between the two companies began about a year ago, without a widely run auction process.
  • Reviews.io, which collects and publishes customer reviews of e-commerce merchants, is also compatible with platforms like Shopify and Magento, Batra says.

Of note: AppHub raised $60 million in growth investment from PE firm Silversmith Capital Partners in April, capital that is helping to finance the transaction.

How it works: AppHub launched a year ago to help brands cut through the noise of a more competitive retail landscape on Shopify and Amazon.

  • It helps automate retailers' processes to cut costs, with solutions ranging from finding and converting customers to shipping and logistics.

What's next: The company, which has completed eight acquisitions to date, is still on the lookout for more buys — with two companies currently on its radar.

  • "There's definitely parts of Shopify and e-commerce that we haven't hit yet in terms of search, in terms of affiliate marketing," Eng says.
  • "We're looking for things merchants can't live without," he adds.

Yes, and: The company likes acquiring other businesses to enter new product categories, scale faster and acquire talent.

  • AppHub has retained the core teams at a majority of its acquisitions and wants to be known as a founder-friendly buyer.
  • Targets tend to be bootstrapped and run cost-efficiently, Batra says.
  • AppHub provides acquisitions with marketing, human resources, finance and product support to free up their founders' time to focus on product development and engineering.

Between the lines: AppHub wants to be a full-suite offering for e-commerce merchants. Reviews, Batra says, are "a backbone for this industry."

  • "So clearly it was a must-have product within our suite," he says of the Reviews.io deal.
  • "It was pretty evident from the start that we needed to try to acquire into this category," Batra went on to explain, noting that his company felt that the first mover advantage was going to be difficult to displace.

The bottom line: AppHub is growing mid-double digits organically and that's without bundling solutions or cross-selling, Batra says.

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