Adding geo-location services to your enterprise is a must-do for most companies and Green Dot has just taken a big leap in that direction by announcing the acquisition of the struggling check-in platform Loopt. Green Dot is paying $43.4 million in cash, including $9.8 million in a retention pool.
At one point Loopt, which was founded in 2005, was in the same league as Foursquare and Gowalla. In fact, you could say that Loopt was ahead of the curve, since Foursquare and Gowalla were founded in 2009. But Gowalla, which raised $10 million in funding, has since exited, after being snapped up by Facebook last December to help improve its check-in functionality. Foursquare has since partnered with more media and retail companies to become the independent industry leader in gamified check-ins.
As more businesses have scrambled to tie campaigns, advertising and other marketing efforts to the check-in trend, the builders of this technology have drawn the attention of social networks. Just this week Yobongo, the startup that creates mobile chat rooms for talking to anyone and everyone nearby, was acquired by photo-printing service Mixbook. Yobongo was just launched last year and only recieved $1.35 million in funding.
The entire Yobongo team was absorbed into Mixbook’s new Palo Alto office to build a mobile app.
And much like the Gowalla acquisition a few months back, to Facebook, the Yobongo app itself will be no more. It was be pulled from the App Store and will no longer have a website service in a matter of weeks.
Since 2005, Loopt has taken $17 million in funding from Y Combinator, Sequoia, and New Enterprise Associates and the now public Green Dot raised $33 million to date, also includes funds from Sequoia. Since Green Dot went public in July of 2010, it now sports a market cap of $1.06 billion and, as of the end of 2011, has $225.43 million in cash on hand.
The Loopt purchase will set Green Dot up for its anticipated push toward creating a mobile wallet system that would help the banking and payment solution arms communicate better with its customers.
Loopt was originally focused on finding friends in your city, not focusing on having people check into particular locations. But now that Loopt is part of a large banking service, the community will get the chance to see how geo-location can bring more localization to commerce and banking.
Possible applications could include various coupon offers when people turn on the geo-location feature, thus letting users get deals and give retailers ways to attract neighbors in their doors.
Foursquare has put some tools in place to allow users to "Explore" the businesses around them and the specials that are offered nearby. And there are still a few small check-in services competing against Foursquare as Loopt exits the marketplace, such as the Italian-based Mobnotes. Mobnotes lets users locate nearby friends, shops and restaurants as wells as send location notifications and tips.
As of the close of the acquisition, Loopt’s current headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. will become a new location for Green Dot’s mobile technology and product development team.
Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT) was trading up around 1% at $29.82 on Friday morning, after the announcement.