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Next Glass Merges With Beer Social Networking App Untappd

By Jenny Callison, posted Jan 15, 2016
Update: This version of the story includes comments on the merger from two beer-related entrepreneurs in Wilmington.

Wilmington-based technology firm Next Glass announced Friday that it has merged with Untappd, an app-based social platform for beer lovers.

Company officials declined to disclose the terms of the transaction.

Untappd will become a subsidiary of Next Glass, although it will continue as independent entity, according to Next Glass chairman George Taylor. For the time being at least, both companies will retain their names, Taylor said earlier this week, adding that Untapped founders Tim Mather, the company’s CEO, and Greg Avola, its chief technical officer, will join the Next Glass leadership team and will continue to run their enterprise.

Next Glass, launched by Kurt Taylor in 2012, develops software that uses science and machine learning to provide personalized recommendations on wine and beer to consumers and business tools to breweries, wineries and retailers.

The merger will allow both Next Glass and Untappd to grow, according to a news release.

“Untappd is used by millions of people around the world, and the merger will provide Untappd with additional resources and technology assets to accelerate new feature development and further global distribution,” the release stated.

The merger will also give Next Glass immediate access to millions of beer lovers worldwide. Kurt Taylor said in the release the joint entity will “immediately become the preeminent beer software company on the market.”

“Our focus has always been on leveraging our science and machine learning to build amazing tools for consumers, breweries, retailers and bars,” he said in the release. “Together with Untappd, we have created a powerful combination that will provide millions of consumers and businesses around the world with an unprecedented experience when it comes to sharing, socializing and learning about all things beer.”

Mather and Avola founded Untappd about five years ago, working with each other part time from opposite coasts of the U.S. while maintaining other full-time employment. The merger will allow both men to focus their efforts on further development of Untappd, they told their nearly 3 million users.

“With the resources provided by Next Glass, we will be able to transition into full time roles within Untappd as well as hire on more staff to speed up our feature development and make the platform even better for the community,” the message stated.

The merger of Next Glass and Untappd "is going to do wonders for [Wilmington] as a craft beer scene," said Caleb Churchwell, co-owner of Bombers Bev. Co. in downtown Wilmington. Churchwell said that the city recently was ranked 7th among SmartAsset's Best Cities for Beer Drinkers, and the fact that Untappd is now based locally "will build us up even further."

Jeremy Tomlinson of Port City Brew Bus said that the arrival of Untappd in Wilmington will generate publicity for the city.

"With all the breweries opening here, it's one more thing that will put us on the beer map and let people know we are a beer city," he said.

Untappd is a mobile app that allows users to share with fellow users comments about brews they are enjoying and where. Churchwell said he had been an Untappd user for several years.

Next Glass has analyzed the chemistry of “tens of thousands of bottles of wine and beer,” the release stated, and has stored the chemical makeup of each beverage in what the company calls its Genome Cellar database, the world’s largest database of its kind.

Next Glass is in rapid growth mode. Earlier this month, the company began moving into new quarters at 21 S. Front St., in a building purchased by James Goodnight, son of SAS founder Jim Goodnight. When the move is complete at month's end, the company's sales, research and lab operations will be under the same roof for the first time.

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