M:Metrics, a Seattle company that measures activity in the mobile industry, has been acquired by comScore, one of the top trackers of Internet...

Share story

M:Metrics, a Seattle company that measures activity in the mobile industry, has been acquired by comScore, one of the top trackers of Internet and digital-market share.

Reston, Va.,-based comScore paid $44.3 million and issued 50,000 stock options to certain M:Metrics options holders in the deal, which was closed Wednesday.

With the acquisition, comScore strengthens its position in measuring mobile-phone usage, mobile-Internet browsing and related advertising — all fast-growing categories that major technology and media companies are focused on.

“We are very strong in monitoring usage of the Web on PCs and we think that that usage is going to be shared with mobile devices as time goes on,” said Magid Abraham, comScore president and chief executive. “The introduction of the iPhone has really created an inflection point in terms of the user experience on wireless devices. As a result, this is an important segment of the marketplace that needs to be covered, and M:Metrics gives us that capability.”

Apple is expected next month to launch an updated iPhone, which will make use of the 3G network for faster Internet browsing.

In the U.S., 89 percent of mobile-phone users own a device capable of browsing the Internet, according to M:Metrics. In the developing world, many people are leapfrogging PCs and wireline phones and going straight to mobile devices for communications and Internet access.

Nielsen, one of comScore’s biggest competitors, acquired Telephia last year to stake its claim in the mobile-measurement space. Abraham said M:Metrics is better suited to monitoring mobile-Internet use, making it a better complement for comScore.

Will Hodgman and Seamus McAteer, who co-founded M:Metrics in 2004, are joining comScore management. ComScore will combine its Seattle office with M:Metrics’, and most of the local company’s functions will remain in Seattle.

Abraham would not rule out layoffs at M:Metrics, which has more than 80 employees. If there are cuts, they would be in duplicate functions, such as finance. He said comScore is growing quickly with many open positions.

“We certainly think that we have a tremendous talent base at M:Metrics, and we want to leverage it to the maximum extent possible,” Abraham said.

ComScore said M:Metrics, which took venture-capital investment from I-Hatch Ventures, Prism Venture Partners, and Kantar Group, is expected to have 2008 sales of $11 million to $12 million. It is expecting the business to be profitable, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by the end of the year.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com