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Intuit buys Boston-based AisleBuyer, startup developing check-out technology for mobile phones

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 10, 2012 03:55 PM

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Intuit, the big California software company that helps consumers and businesses manage their money, is buying a Boston startup, AisleBuyer. The purchase price isn't being disclosed, but AisleBuyer has raised about $11 million in equity and debt financing since it was founded in 2009.

AisleBuyer developed technology that allows consumers to scan a product's barcode in a store, see reviews and ratings, and, if they choose, pay for that product with a credit card without having to stand in line at a register. I test-drove the technology in 2010 at Magic Beans, a small local chain that sells kids products. Last year, AisleBuyer announced a partnership with Big Y Supermarkets, based in Springfield, but the startup hadn't announced any other users of its technology since then.

AisleBuyer chief executive Andrew Paradise tells me that the Intuit relationship began last October, when he spoke at a conference in Chicago immediately after Chris Hylen, who heads up the Payment Solutions business unit at Intuit. "We started talking afterwards," Paradise says. The companies began a very quiet pilot test earlier this year with a few Intuit customers, exploring how AisleBuyer's mobile check-out technology could be integrated with various Intuit software products.

"While we were pursuing the partnership path, we realized that there were a lot of things we could do together if we were more fully integrated as one organization," Paradise says. "The vision around creating a mobile point-of-sale offering for small businesses turned into acquisition talks."

AisleBuyer had 37 employees prior to the acquisition, and not everyone will join Intuit. A three-person team in Palo Alto will go to work at Intuit's Mountain View headquarters. The Boston employees who'd been working on AisleBuyer's small business product will stay where they are, and become Intuit employees. But a significant number of people who'd been working on an enterprise version of AisleBuyer's technology will lose their jobs; Paradise wouldn't be specific about the number.

AisleBuyer was a semi-finalist in the inaugural MassChallenge startup competition, in 2010. Intuit has long had a software development office in Waltham.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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