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Could Opbeat's Developer Tools Attract Big-Name Suitors?

Opbeat is building the kinds of tools big tech companies like to gobble up.

Opbeat is one of those cleverly devised startups designed to fill a very specific need within the tech world.

The San Francisco-based company caters to mobile and Web developers, providing a tool to determine the exact line of code that’s causing their app to crash or tweak out, and on Thursday, Opbeat released a new metrics tool that helps developers see whether coding changes speed up or slow down their app. The service even identifies which developer entered the bad code to begin with.

It’s these tools that make Opbeat an intriguing company for other tech startups, since building them on their own would take a lot of time and maintenance. Opbeat offers its set of tools for a small fee.

But it also makes Opbeat an acquisition target for a larger provider of mobile developer tools — companies like Yahoo, Facebook or Twitter.

Helping developers build their mobile apps has become a major focus for all three companies. Facebook will host its F8 developer conference next month; Yahoo just hosted its conference earlier this month; and Twitter’s version, Flight, was last October. They want developers using their respective tools to build and support their mobile apps, and having a service that could more efficiently debug their code would make their pitch to developers more enticing.

There’s also a demand for this technology. New Relic, which offers similar tools for developers, just went public in December, but the services are otherwise hard to come by, especially for smaller startups. Opbeat is focused on selling its services to these smaller engineering teams, that would otherwise need to build out their own versions.

That’s why Opbeat could potentially fit at one of these bigger companies. Facebook’s Parse already offers some operations services, but nothing as specific as what Opbeat provides. Twitter owns Crashlytics, a tool for identifying app crashes once the app is already in the hands of the consumer, but nothing for identifying coding errors on the back end.

There’s another interesting element to Opbeat. Its list of investors includes Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, giving it a direct tie to social media platforms. It’s something Opbeat CEO Rasmus Makwarth was very conscious of from the beginning. He says he was looking for “smart money.”

This doesn’t mean anyone is knocking down Opbeat’s door. The company is still relatively unknown, although it has “a few thousand” customers. Makwarth says he’ll be in the market for a new round of funding this year, too. Opbeat raised $2.7 million almost two years ago from a number of investors, including Krieger.

It was Krieger’s first investment after Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion the previous year. He said that his experience building Instagram, and all the issues he faced trying to build these kinds of tools himself, inspired him to get involved.

“Our number one cause of issues is ourselves,” Krieger told Re/code. “What [Opbeat] lets you do is leapfrog a bunch of things you end up doing in that first year [or so] once you’ve been released out to the public.”

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