Skype (Microsoft) buys GroupMe for reported $85 million
Microsoft is buying Facebook partner Skype, which is buying GroupMe, a way of communicating with groups of selected friends. Kind of like Google+
GroupMe — a little company with a big solution for sending free group messages to friends in one's Contact list, regardless of their phones' platforms — is being acquired by Skype. Which is of course in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. (CP: Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion)
The financials of the deal haven't been announced, but All Things D reports that Skype — subtracting a few zeros from its Microsoft deal — will pay $85 million for the New York company, which started in 2010, inspired by an idea hatched at TechCrunch's 2010 Disrupt Hackathon. In addition to group messaging, GroupMe enables users to set up conference calls — the group gets a unique phone number that everyone calls — and post location information or photos for friends to see.
The GroupMe team says it'll stay in New York and that the app will continue to be offered as a standalone.
"The major difference will be that we will now have access to Skype’s 175 million monthly connected users," they said in a blog post yesterday. "175 million people. That’s a very big deal."
Skype's Tony Bates, also in a post yesterday, said the acquisition is "another step towards our vision to provide a global multi-modal and multi-platform communications experience," adding that it complements Skype's current offerings by providing "mobile text-based communications and innovative features around group messaging that enable users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest ties."
Which kind of sounds a lot like Google+, Skype-partner Facebook's new competition.
In the comments section following the GroupMe team's excited announcement, one GroupMe user connected some dots and feared for the service's future.
"Microsoft owns Skype, which is in bed with Facebook, which earlier bought GroupMe's biggest competitor (Beluga) and then treated it like the redheaded stepchild," wrote ty_frank (with slightly less punctuation). "I switched back to GroupMe from Beluga cause of this. Please don't repeat Beluga's/Facebook's/Skype's/Microsoft's blunder."
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