Oyster’s sudden end fuels speculations that it was acquired by Google.
The way we read books has changed over the years. Today, people read books on their mobile devices. And, just like Netflix, which offers unlimited movies for a monthly price, companies like Amazon, Scribd, and Oyster are leading the e-book subscription space.
Google appears to be interested in launching its own e-book subscription service. The company reportedly bought the e-book startup, Oyster. The company recently announced it is shutting down its service.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the future of e-books and mobile reading. We believe more than ever that the phone will be the primary reading device globally over the next decade—enabling access to knowledge and stories for billions of people worldwide," the company said. “Looking forward, we feel this is best seized by taking on new opportunities to fully realize our vision for e-books.”
Although Oyster didn’t say anything about selling its business to Google, a Google representative confirmed to Re/code that a portion of the Oyster team is joining Google Play Books, the search giant’s book service on Google Play. Currently, Google Play Books isn’t offering a monthly subscription, unlike its Music service.
It will be interesting to see Google entering the e-books subscription business. With Oyster closing in the coming months, the market now has two remaining players: Amazon and Scribd. Amazon launched its Kindle Unlimited service last year, offering book lovers the chance to consume as many books that they could read for $9.99 a month. Scribd took the competition higher by adding audiobooks and comic books to its service.
Eric Stromberg, Andrew Brown, and Willem Van Lancker founded Oyster in 2012. The startup raised $3 million in seed funding the same year. Last year, it raised another $14 million in Series A funding. Google is willing to pay Oyster’s investors, sources said, to get the service and the talent. This makes the deal an acquihire—buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff.
Oyster recently made improvements to its service. It introduced a new feature called Lumin, which makes reading on mobile devices easier. But being a US-only service, it is trailing behind Scribd and Amazon. It could change, though. Oyster has found the perfect opportunity that could fulfil its mission: connect readers to books that they love.
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