KEY POINTS

  • Google acquires startup Pointy for $163 million
  • Pointy develops software and hardware for listing retail products of store owners online
  • Pointy's algorithm automatically tracks purchase to make an estimate of inventory

It's an uphill struggle for brick and mortar businesses to thrive in a world where everyone can ask Alexa or Siri to find where the nearest laundromat or Starbucks is. Despite business owners being au courant with the benefits of the online space, some still lack the technical knowhow to set it in motion. Google's acquisition of startup Pointy aims to change that.

For an undisclosed amount that a TechCrunch source says is estimated to be $163 million, Google will get its hands on a piece of technology that the startup based in Dublin, Ireland, developed. Pointy already announced the deal on its website ahead of Google, and founders Mark Cummins (CEO) and Charles Bibby (CTO) stated that the acquisition is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Founded in 2014, Pointy has unique hardware that allows retailers to list their products online, even without the tech-savviness to do so. The process is simple: the device that's the shape and size of a slightly larger 9v battery with a noticeable antenna sticking out on the side (which makes it look like a tiny walkie talkie) is plugged into a shop owner's Point of Sale machine. 

And every time a product is scanned, it gets uploaded to the shop's Pointy page and integrated into Google's "See What's In Store," so consumers nearby can find it online and make the subsequent visit to the store for purchase. The algorithm of Pointy can also detect inventory even though it doesn't track them. What it does is it approximates the stock count based on purchasing patterns.

The pricing for Pointy is $899 without any recurring fees for store owners, and its free app can link to Clover, Square, Lightspeed, Vend, Liberty, WooPOS, BestRx and CashRx POS.

Google seems like it's on a shopping spree of acquiring startups with a theme of helping businesses without much of the technical wizardry to flourish in the modern age. The web search giant also purchased AppSheet for, again, an undisclosed amount, and this Seattle startup helps businesses create apps using its platform even without employing a team of developers.

Google says it i s on track to phase out 'cookies' used to track people's online activities while still offering ways to deliver targeted advertising Google says it i s on track to phase out 'cookies' used to track people's online activities while still offering ways to deliver targeted advertising Photo: AFP / LOIC VENANCE