Life Preserver

Groupon may be taking a beating in the press and on Wall Street, but the company is still looking for ways to integrate itself into the fabric of small businesses. Part of doing so is attracting talent – no easy proposition when your stock is in free fall.

The latest news to come out of the daily deals giant makes sense in this context. The company has apparently acqui-hired MashLogic, a five-year-old Palo Alto startup that makes the Britely contextual browser plugin. The browser plugin fad didn’t pan out too well for most involved, but the MashLogic team certainly gained relevant experience that Groupon is hoping they can put to use in the local commerce vertical.

The deal means the end for Britely, which provides Web users with contextual information about content they’re reading. You’ve likely encountered the technology when browsing the Web and hovering your mouse cursor over a highlighted word or phrase. Britely would then serves a (rather irritating) pop-up bubble that contains links to relevant articles or images, keeping the user from having to leave the site.

MashLogic raised $3.9 million, including $2.5 million in a September 2009 Series A round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, SoftTech VC, About.com founder Scott Kurnit, Reid Hoffman, and Gil Penchina.

The startup announced the acquisition via a post on its webpage:

We’re excited to announce that MashLogic – the company that makes Britely – has been acquired by Groupon.

We are thrilled to join the Groupon team to help build the operating system for local commerce. Like all startups, our aspiration has always been to have a major impact on the world, and with Groupon, we see a real opportunity to make a significant improvement in people’s everyday lives.

Of course, this is a little bittersweet for us. We’ve very much enjoyed building Britely.  The best part has been getting to know you, our user community.  To all of you that joined us on the journey, we wanted to say thank you!  Thank you for your support, feedback, creativity, and enthusiasm.

We will shut down the Britely service on February 18, 2013, including all brites and blog embeds. If you would like to save any of the books you created on Britely, you can login to your account  and download them prior to this date. After February 18, 2013 all data and user records will be permanently deleted.

Please email us info@britely.com with any questions or problems. Thank you again for coming along for the ride with us. It’s been beautiful.

[PandoDaily reached out to the company for further comment and will update this post when additional information becomes available.]