Google Agrees to Buy Twitter Unit Called Fabric

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is acquiring a unit from Twitter as the latter company looks to continue streamlining itself.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is acquiring a unit from Twitter as the latter company looks to continue streamlining itself. PHOTO: KAREN BLEIER/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Alphabet Inc.’s Google agreed to acquire a unit from Twitter Inc. that runs a tool for developers to make mobile apps, the latest step in Twitter’s efforts to streamline its business.

Twitter said it launched the unit, called Fabric, in 2014 and it is now used by more than 580,000 mobile developers. The Fabric team is moving to Google, though Twitter declined to say how many employees that included.

Google said that it would fold Fabric and its employees into Google’s Developer Product Group and that they would work with its Firebase team, which also makes a mobile-app tool for developers. Google bought Firebase in October 2014, the day before Twitter announced the launch of Fabric.

 

The companies did not disclose any financial details including price.

Twitter’s sale of Fabric follows its recent closure of its Vine video app and a 9% reduction of its workforce. Twitter is trimming its business amid dwindling revenue growth and following the retreat of several potential acquirers, including Google and Salesforce.com Inc., this fall.

Fabric was part of Twitter’s overall effort to move past its live feed of tweets and build inroads with app developers at a time when smartphones and tablets were becoming indispensable. Fabric combined the services of Twitter acquisitions made in 2013, including Crashlytics, a mobile crash-reporting tool, and MoPub, an ad platform.

With Fabric, Google will hold two of the most popular mobile-app tools among developers, enabling the company to steer developers as they create apps. Fabric, for instance, is popular with developers for Apple’s iOS software for iPhones. Google can now make it easy for those developers to create similar versions of their iPhone apps for the mobile web and Google’s Android software.

Fabric can also help boost Google Cloud revenues. Google gives much of its Firebase tool away free, but it makes money off the service because many Firebase developers buy computing power and storage from Google’s cloud service. Fabric is likely to follow a similar model.

Google sees appeal in Fabric’s Crashlytics, too. Google said it plans to replace Firebase’s crash-reporting tool, which is one of the service’s most used features, with Crashlytics.