WPP Buys Mobile Firm That Built NPR and NatGeo’s Cool Apps

Bottle Rocket's 2013 revenue reached $17 million

WPP made its second investment in a mobile company since August, acquiring notable apps maker Bottle Rocket for an undisclosed sum.

The holding company said Bottle Rocket—which has a bevy of big media clients such as NPR, National Geographic, ABC News and NBCUniversal—took in $17 million in revenue for its 2013 fiscal year that ended in September. That sum might appear to some observers to be small potatoes in a multi-billion-dollar advertising marketplace, but many growing mobile app specialty shops fail to get to the $10 million annual revenue mark.

So, Bottle Rocket doesn't lack spark and, based on its clients list, can probably charge a premium for rich media development work for publishers that need scintillating user experiences in order to compete for eyeballs. As one example, National Geographic's app involves a cool library of videos, including clips from its series about storm chasers. 

Five-year-old Bottle Rocket makes apps for iPhone, Android and iPad devices and has won awards over the years for its mobile work. The Dallas-based tech vendor employs 170 people and will keep its brand while becoming part of the WPP portfolio.

The purchase follows WPP Digital's buying a minority stake in Mutual Mobile, an Austin, Texas-based firm that develops mobile products. In recent months, WPP has said it wants up to 45 percent of its revenues to arrive from emerging markets and media.