Google today announced their acquisition of YC alumni BufferBox, a Waterloo-based startup that specializes in providing users with temporary lockers to receive delivery of packages from online e-commerce retailers. The company is led by a founding team of three University of Waterloo graduates, Mike McCauley, Aditya Bali and Jay Shah. The startup actually already shares a building with Google’s Waterloo office, and is located in the Communitech accelerator VeloCity Garage offices in that city.
The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed (update: we’re hearing $17 million+, see below), but the purchase of the two year-old startup is definitely an interesting one. BufferBox founder McCauley told the Financial Post in an interview that the company hopes to “build out [its] vision a bit quicker” thanks to the resources and talent newly available from Google. BufferBox will retain its distinct brand as part of the deal, according to Google speaking to the Financial Post, but the company didn’t elaborate on its plans for the startup, beyond sharing the opinion that there are lots of opportunities related to “end-to-end” relationships with shoppers.
When contacted for comment, a Google spokesperson shared the following statement about the acquisition:
We want to remove as much friction as possible from the shopping experience, while helping consumers save time and money, and we think the BufferBox team has a lot of great ideas around how to do that.
Google is apparently building a big chunk of the mobile commerce side of its business out of Waterloo, where’s there’s a steady stream of engineering talent from the nearby University of Waterloo, which supplies graduates to Apple, Facebook and a number of the other top Silicon Valley tech companies and startups.
BufferBox will already offer 100 of its delivery lockers in the GTA and Hamilton area in Canada by the end of next year, located primarily at transit depots, to allow users to sign up for one-time use delivery. Amazon currently offers a similar service, through its Lockers program, which expanded to Silicon Valley this summer and which likewise uses temporary codes to enable single-use delivery. This looks like it could be a move by Google to directly compete with Amazon at least on this aspect on online retail.
Update: We’re hearing from our source that the price paid by Google for BufferBox was north of $17 million. Also, it’s worth checking out Om Malik’s piece on BufferBox from earlier in November, which he pointed out to me on Twitter predicted a possible Google buy of BufferBox.