Waterford start-up NearForm strikes a formidable US deal

13 Oct 2023

Image: NearForm

And by that, we mean the fast-growing scale-up behind Ireland’s Covid tracker app has acquired Seattle software and design consultancy firm Formidable.

NearForm, the Waterford start-up that made Ireland’s contact-tracing app during the pandemic, has acquired US-based software firm Formidable to expand its global presence.

Headquartered in Seattle, Formidable is a software engineering and design consulting firm that counts among its clients some big household names in the US, including Puma, Lululemon, Starbucks and Walmart.

Specialising in open-source software, Formidable has worked in software and design consultancy with clients of all sizes, from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, since its foundation in 2013.

Now, the start-up is bringing nearly 100 direct employees to NearForm, according to The Currency, which will increase the Waterford-based scale-up’s headcount to around 400. This includes engineers, designers and strategists who build digital products for enterprises.

“Bringing NearForm and Formidable together felt like a natural fit from the start,” said NearForm CEO Ciarán Cosgrave, without revealing financial details of the transaction.

“We share a common heritage in the craft of design and engineering and a firm belief in the power of code to be a force for good and deliver enduring positive outcomes for our people, our clients and our communities.”

The acquisition follows a December 2020 investment from Columbia Capital, which marked its first major funding from an outside backer. Prior to the investment, NearForm was enlisted by the HSE and the Department of Health to build Ireland’s Covid Tracker app.

“NearForm joining forces with Formidable brings two pioneers of the open source web platform together to make a professional services powerhouse – we’re so excited for what happens next,” added NearForm founder Cian Ó Maidín, who spoke at Future Human 2020.

Now, NearForm hopes that Formidable’s big clients and significant US presence will “dovetail” the existing NearForm offering, providing a “springboard” for growth into key sectors such as retail and e-commerce.

“Partnering with NearForm will allow us to elevate our existing strengths in providing top-notch engineering and product and design expertise with an amazing, unified team with extensive capabilities,” said Formidable CEO Ryan Roemer.

“By harnessing our collective technical acumen, industry insights and service partnerships, we’re set to deliver elevated product integrations. Together, our open-source synergy reinforces our unwavering commitment to nurturing and advancing the technical community.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic