Urban Airship, the company that specializes in enabling push-messaging features for companies’ apps, has announced today the acquisition of Tello, the SaaS and mobile application company that recently started specializing in creating passes for Apple Passbook. This has also now been confirmed by Tello itself, in a blog post earlier this morning.

Urban Airship was launched in Portland, Oregon, way back in May 2009, after co-founder Steven Osborn had been tasked with creating and deploying a backend system for push and in-app purchase for a gaming firm. This led to Osborn realizing the opportunity for a firm dedicated specifically to this component.

Tello was founded in 2010 in Palo Alto by entrepreneur Joe Beninato, and is backed by investors including True Ventures, Bullpen Capital and SV Angel.

Way back in early 2011, we wrote about Tello as a promising startup that was aiming to change the way consumers give feedback to companies. Then in February this year, the company launched a suite of services for businesses, as well as a $2.7m round of funding.

At the time, Tello’s main offering allowed customers to leave feedback for companies in a more structured way than you’d find on sites like Yelp. By sharing feedback about particular employees at your favorite location, as well as share a quick review with a thumbs up or down.

In September, however, Tello launched PassTools, which we’re told has seen rapid adoption with “thousands of customers” including local businesses, retailers, professional sports teams and wireless carriers creating tens of thousands of passes to date. Passes? Yup, what we’re talking about here is Apple’s Passbook.

Screenshot 1 520x329 Push messaging specialists Urban Airship acquires Tello for its Passbook pass building tech

The Passbook business

The long-term overall impact of Apple’s Passbook has been a hot topic over the last two months since it was launched with iOS 6 on the iPhone and iPod Touch, with the likes of McDonaldsUnited AirlinesEventbriteMLBStarbucksAmerican Express and others jumping on board.

While full details around the acquisition are not being disclosed, it’s an interesting deal for sure and should help extend Urban Airship’s position in the mobile ecosystem. Through Passbook, companies are able to reach mobile shoppers with coupons, tickets, loyalty cards and more.

“We love what Tello has created and see tremendous potential for combining our solutions to create the perfect pass solution,” says Scott Kveton, CEO and co-founder, Urban Airship. “The combination of push messaging, passes and location-targeting offer an easy yet sophisticated solution for businesses to drive more successful pass programs.”

Urban Airship will retain Tello’s California office in downtown Palo Alto, giving the company a ready-made Silicon Valley hub in addition to its office in San Francisco. It says it will continue to “invest heavily” in its California teams, as well as its headquarters in Portland. Tello’s founder and CEO, Joe Beninato, will join Urban Airship’s management team as GM of Digital Wallet.

The deal comes five months after a strategic partnership with predictive analytics specialists GamesAnalytics, to allow developers to drive deeper engagement with games and promote content-specific times that might be more interesting to users.

Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock