Microsoft buys Xamarin, engineering HQ expected to stay in Boston area

Xamarin Monkey Laptop

Xamarin, a four-year-old software company with major engineering offices in Boston, has been acquired by Microsoft to help the tech giant compete in an era dominated by mobile computing.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but investors who poured about $82 million into Xamarin said they were very happy with the deal on Wednesday. “As a venture outcome, it’s a very, very good outcome,” said Izhar Armony, a Xamarin board member with Cambridge venture capital firm CRV.

Xamarin most recently raised a $54 million investment round in 2014. It attracted some 15,000 customers and was collecting “many dozens of millions of dollars in revenue” per year, Armony said.

Xamarin was founded in Cambridge, but co-founder and CEO Nat Friedman soon moved the company headquarters to the San Francisco area to be closer to the software developers who were its target users.

Xamarin’s co-founder and technical chief, Miguel de Icaza, stayed in the Boston area and ran the company’s engineering team, which included about 30 local employees. They were expected to remain with Microsoft, which has its key regional office near the MIT campus.

Xamarin’s software allows developers to build applications for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems without having to master the special code needed to make programs specifically for those platforms.

It does that by acting as a translator, automatically converting code written in the C# language often used by Microsoft developers into code that, after some final tweaks, can run on Apple or Android-based devices.

That essentially allows developers familiar with the older language to build mobile apps without having to learn all-new languages, hire new developers, or build the same app three separate times.

Microsoft, which has lagged behind Apple and Android owner Google in the mobile sector, has worked closely with Xamarin over the past few years as it attempts to give developers who use its software tools access to new mobile computing platforms.

“With today’s acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better,” Microsoft vice president Scott Guthrie wrote on his blog.