Shopify acquires Toronto-based app studio Tiny Hearts

In an October 6 blog post, Robleh Jama wrote “This is one of the toughest announcements we’ve had to make…”

The CEO of Tiny Hearts, a Toronto-based app studio, was referring to the difficult decision to shut down Next Keyboard, his company’s iOS app born of a successful crowdfunding campaign two years earlier.

Today, in a blog post written just two months later, Jama’s tone has shifted: “We’re really excited to make biggest announcement we’ve ever made — Tiny Hearts has been acquired by Shopify!”

The nearly seven-year-old company is moving down the street to join Shopify’s Toronto offices, and is no stranger to working with the e-commerce firm. Tiny Hearts has collaborated with the company in the past on projects such as Frenzy, Shopify’s app for flash sales.

Tiny Hearts has seen a degree of success in the app market. The company says its apps have been downloaded by more than six million people and have hit as high as No. 2 on the App Store’s top charts. Its portfolio includes Quick Fit, Wake Alarm and the app that Jama quit his job to launch, Pocket Zoo.

As part of the deal, Shopify will be acquiring Tiny Hearts’ apps as well as Busy Building Things, an online store with products aimed at entrepreneurs. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Jama noted in an e-mail that six members of the product team will be making the move to Shopify.

“Tiny Hearts has a track record of shipping apps that people love and we’re excited to have them join our team. The team is not only bringing strong mobile talent to Shopify, but also their leadership and experience. They will help us unlock mobile as the best platform for growing Shopify,” said Satish Kanwar, Shopify's director of product,  in an email.

Speaking of mobile, did you catch the Globe and Mail’s look at how CEO Tobi Lutke changed the course of the company when he foresaw Shopify’s shortcomings on mobile?

Jama writes that partnering with Shopify was not a move of necessity, despite the blow of closing Next Keyboard.

The company had recently transitioned to focusing more on client services rather than its own products, but realized soon after that services weren’t where it belonged. The team began searching for options to fund its own product developments, including VC investments and acquisition partners.

“Exits typically don’t just happen, but there was an opportunity with Shopify right in front of us. We’ve had other acquisition and investment offers come in while we were doing business, which we politely said no to. Some companies are forced into acquisitions, but that wasn’t our story,” Jama writes.

The story, Jama says, has a happy ending. Tiny Hearts gets to work on the product side, and for a company the team “immensely” respects.

This marks Shopify’s third acquisition of the year and the fifth in its history. The company acquired Waterloo-based Boltmade in October and Kit CRM in April.