Context Optional Buys Buzzeo, Expands App Platform

Context Optional announced the purchase of unwrap, inc. today in a cash-and-stock deal that’s meant to diversify the former’s Facebook-centric marketing services. The acquisition centered on unwrap’s Buzzeo Platform, which allows brands to make Facebook apps with e-commerce functions and virtual goods, as well as polls and product listings.

“We’re trying to…bridge the gap between what a marketer really wants to do on Facebook and what Facebook offers in terms of the APIs,” said Kevin Barenblat, Context Optional CEO. “[Buzzeo] will help us build out and become more robust and more engaging in customizable applications for brands. That’s where it fits.”

More than anything, the acquisition may bolster Context Optional’s presence among small business owners. While big brands that have employed Buzzeo include Ben & Jerry’s and Gold’s Gym, the platform has been utilized by a healthy dose of SMBs like coffee shops. They’ve constructed shopping experiences for Facebook, CafePress, and Zazzle on the platform, said unwrap co-founder Joshua Reeves. He said more than 175,000 accounts have been created, adding, “We’ve had a pretty broad cross-section.”

Reeves and unwrap co-founder Waynn Lue will join Context Optional and focus on product development, marketing, and engineering. Buzzeo will remain a standalone brand. Palo Alto, CA-based unwrap will shutter its headquarters and work out of Context Optional’s San Francisco offices.

Meanwhile, Barenblat’s software-as-a-service company has offered coupons, in-stream promotions, and other retail-focused applications that theoretically let brands leverage their Facebook fan base and create sales. Kohl’s, Threadless, and Einstein Bros. Bagels are some of the companies that have used the four-year-old firm to help manage their presence on the social site.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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