Founded in 2011, New York City-based FiftyThree was known for developing Paper, its drawing app that won Apple’s iPad App of the Year in 2012. It later released another product, Paste, a presentation tool.
Based in the Netherlands, WeTransfer has 42 million monthly users who send files via the service. The company saw an opportunity to expand its creative tool suite with the acquisition of FiftyThree, said WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby.
“We realized a huge overlap and alignment between what each team wanted to do,” Willoughby said. “It made a ton of sense for us to combine and enable us to grow faster.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. WeTransfer acquired FIftyThree’s employees, patents, and trademarks, but not the company itself.
FiftyThree had raised more than $45 million, including a $30 million round in 2015 led by New Enterprise Associates. Other backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Highline Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angels and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
It’s a somewhat unexpected outcome for FiftyThree, which was founded by several former Microsoft employees. Paper has been downloaded 25 million times, while Paste is used by more than 100,000 creative teams.
“At some point, there comes a question of how many subscription services consumers and customers will have,” said FiftyThree co-founder Georg Petschnigg. “We think there should be a very clear one for creatives and everyday creatives. That’s what we are building with WeTransfer.”
FiftyThree made money by selling in-app purchases on Paper and with a SaaS-model for Paste. It also built Pencil, an iPad stylus.
WeTransfer offers both a free and premium option, which lets users send larger files and remove transfer delete dates.
Petschnigg and his co-founder, Andrew Allen, said the combined product with WeTransfer will compete with Dropbox and Google.
“When you start designing for tools that are truly about the creative flow, I’d like to argue that the products WeTransfer and FiftyThree have developed — and will continue to develop — are really examples of that,” Petschnigg said. “It’s a very different view of how a tool should work. It should be seamless and effortless and almost fade into the background.”
FiftyThree has 14 employees; it employed 70 people in 2015. All but two will be joining WeTransfer, which will now have offices in New York and Seattle, where FiftyThree has three employees. WeTransfer, which employs 104 people, will maintain the Paper and Paste brands and products, but shutter the FiftyThree name. The company has raised $25 million and is profitable, Willoughby said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that WeTransfer acquired Paper and Paste from FiftyThree.