Twitter acquires Dublin start-up OpenBack to improve its notifications

Twitter has acquired OpenBack, an engineering-led start-up working to improve push notifications on mobile devices.

With patented edge computing technology, OpenBack moves push notification message execution to the user’s device. The company claims this improves deliverability as well as offering more control over aspects such as the timing of notifications, which can be optimised through user signals and machine learning.

OpenBack’s technology also keeps all personal data on-device, making it appealing to privacy-conscious users.

The acquisition is expected to impact Twitter users with changes to how they receive and manage notifications. Twitter head of consumer product Jay Sullivan said that OpenBack will “improve our ability to deliver the right notifications at the right time, in a way that puts people’s privacy first”.

He tweeted: “The best push notifications bring people to the conversations they care about on Twitter. But irrelevant notifications are a distraction. With millions of people visiting Twitter via notifications every day, we want them to be timely, relevant and engaging.”

OpenBack is headquartered in Dublin but also has teams based in other countries. It will shut down on 19 April and its staff will join the Bluebird product team at Twitter, where they’ll be focused on notification tech.

Twitter declined to share terms of the deal.

OpenBack CEO David Shackleton said he and co-founders Christian Ryder and Nicolas Pabion set out six years ago to improve push notifications with a user-centred approach.

“This opportunity to work with Twitter fulfils that in so many ways more than we ever imagined,” he tweeted.

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According to LinkedIn, OpenBack has less than 50 employees. The company started out during Shackleton’s time at Ding, another Irish start-up he co-founded. Ding is an international mobile top-up service operating across more than 140 countries.

Shackleton, who at one point led Ding as CEO, left the company in 2018. Last year, Ding sold a majority stake to Pollen Street Capital in its first external investment since it was founded in 2006.

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