FT Buys Its Web App Maker; CEO Ridding’s Memo

The Financial Times has acquired London-based web and application developer Assanka, which made the web app on which the publisher has based its independence from iTunes.

Assanka launched the HTML5 web app with the paper’s in-house product team in June 2011, declaring “the craze for native apps is a short one and we are already seeing it on the wane”.

Previous Assanka clients include Twickenham’s Town Centre Management Board and the Chartered Institute for Public Relations. An acquisition price is not disclosed.

CEO’s staff memo:

“Dear all,

“I’m very pleased to announce that the Financial Times has acquired Assanka, the London-based web and application developer.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to deliver our world class journalism anywhere, anytime on any device, delivering new digital products and services that engage our busy readers.

“Assanka has played an important part in the FT’s recent digital and mobile successes, including the launch of the FT Web App which has now achieved over 1m users and which has helped drive digital subscriptions to beyond 250,000. Assanka has also contributed towards our recently launched Android App and supported our blog platforms, including FT Alphaville.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring talented and very creative software engineers with proven skills in emerging web technologies into our team. It will further boost our momentum in digital journalism, help us improve our development processes and allow us to maintain our edge in this strategically important area.

“Assanka will become a part of the FT Technology Group while retaining its independence and the culture that has made them so successful to date. They will also help develop mobile and app expertise across Pearson, acting as a centre of innovation for technologies of increasing relevance and importance across the overall business.

“This is an exciting time for the FT and we will need all of our technology teams to continue to innovate and deliver the cutting edge digital products and services needed to support our continued success as a digital publisher.

“Best wishes,


The FT launched a native iOS web app alongside iPad’s April 2010 launch, processing customer transactions independently inside the app. The new device has proved a revelation, causing customers for the publisher’s cross-platform access to accelerate from previous years.

But the paper pulled its iPad and iPhone apps out of iTunes Store in August 2011 after failing to win concessions from Apple’s new stipulation that all in-app payments must go through iTunes Store.

Since then, new FT subscriptions have nevertheless continued at a consistent rate. Mobile devices account for 20 percent of all page views and 15 percent of new subscriptions.

Bullish, the FT – under online MD Rob Grimshaw and mobile product lead Steve Pinches – has decided to simplify product development in a multi-device world by using the web app as the basis for all its apps across platforms. But few publishing peers have chosen to eschew iTunes in this way.