GovDelivery Acquires Civic Tech Startup Textizen

The acquisition is expected to enhance and scale GovDelivery's citizen engagement offerings.

by / July 28, 2015
After its acquisition by GovDelivery, Textizen Co-founder Michelle Lee said she expects additional staffing will be required to meet a new demand for Textizen's citizen engagement services. Flickr/Interop Events

Making further inroads in the government market, cloud communications company GovDelivery has acquired civic tech startup Textizen, the two announced jointly on July 28.

The two companies, which did not disclose financial details, said the move would embed the app’s suite of mobile texting services — such as citizen polling, feedback and communication features — into GovDelivery’s wide assortment of digital outreach services.

“GovDelivery has tremendous expertise in working with public-sector clients of all sizes,” said Textizen co-founder and CEO Michelle Lee. “Putting this support behind Textizen allows the Textizen team to focus on our interactive messaging technology, bringing it to even more public-sector organizations of all sizes.”

Since Textizen emerged as part of a 2012 Code for America Fellowship project in Philadelphia, and since launching in 2013, it’s grown to encompass 40 government customers and increase citizen engagement in the areas of civic participation, human services and youth outreach. Its unique users total roughly 100,000 people each year, and GovDelivery is apt to supercharge this growth with a network connected to its hundreds of jurisdictions and 80 million people.

Ambitions are to magnify Textizen’s influence in the public sector as the startup’s co-founders — Alex Yule, Serena Wales and Lee — focus staff on products, engineering needs and value enhancements. In the next two years, GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns said the startup’s offerings will eventually be intertwined with many of GovDelivery’s services as demand for interactive text communications increases.

“GovDelivery’s clients are sending billions of targeted email, text and social messages out every year,” Burn said. “We can bring Textizen to our more than 1,000 government clients, help scale and secure the service, and integrate it with the messaging capabilities we already offer.”

Burns said the deal was brought about by a previous partnership that underscored Textizen’s unique aptitude for generating clients and delivering impacts.

“Citizens want to interact with government organizations on their own terms, and government is looking for ways to engage that, drive efficiency and improve the customer experience,” Burns said.

Such prospects are an affirmation to Code for America’s executive director and founder Jennifer Pahlka who, in a following release, said she viewed the deal as progressive milestone for additional civic tech investment.

“This is the first acquisition of a company incubated by Code for America and a validation of both the desire by local governments to meet people where they are and the role of the civic technology movement in revitalizing the government ecosystem,” Pahlka said.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Textizen's Code for America fellowship happened in 2013 instead of 2012.

Jason Shueh former staff writer

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.