Google buys Kifi to build up group chat app Spaces

Kifi will be shutting down in a few weeks, with the team coming to work on Spaces

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
July 13, 2016
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In May, Google launched new group chat app called Spaces, one that, in its words "lets people get people together instantly to share around any topic." Google's attempt to go after social again.

You'd be forgiven if you had never heard of Spaces, or had never used it, but Google seems committed to making it work. The company is even about to give the app an upgrade through the acquisition of Kifi, an app for collecting links from across the Internet, which teams could then collaborate on.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but this was an acqui-hire, as it was revealed that the Kifi service and data will not become part of Google. The service will remain fully functional for existing users for a few more weeks, before its shut down. The company is no longer accepting new registrations. 

Google did not say how many members of its organization would heading to Google, but that they will be joining the Spaces team where they will "build solutions focused on improving group sharing, conversation, and content finding."

Founded in 2012, Kifi is a knowledge sharing tool for individuals and teams. They could keep Web pages in Libraries, which could then be shared and collaborate on with colleagues. It was like a bookkeeping service for webpages, making it easier to find a page without having to retrace the steps it took to find it in the first place.

"The mission at Kifi has always been to connect people with knowledge. We created a service that seamlessly enables organizing, sharing, discussing, and finding the content you and your team values, which has resulted in more flexible and intuitive collaboration across the internet," the company wrote. "We also spent significant time creating a service that overlays context on your browsing and sharing experiences to increase usefulness and understanding."

Now Google will have access to that expertise, and Kifi certainly see the company as having a kindred mission.

"We see a lot of alignment to Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful," the team wrote. (Emphasis theirs)

Kifi had raised $11.2 million in venture funding from Don Katz, Oren Zeev, SGVC and Wicklow Capital.

Google started out 2016 going pretty slowly when it came to acquisitions, having bought only three companies in the first half of the year. It has now purchased the same amount in just the past week; along with Kifi, Google also bought image recognition startup Moodstocks, and Anvato, a software platform for encoding, editing, publishing and distribution of video content across multiple platforms.

Before that it had purchased Singapore-based communications service Pie, virtual guide Synergyse, and high-speed Internet provider Webpass.

Last year the company made 16 purchases, down from a pretty extraordinary 35 acquisitions in 2014. Not only that, but it's the only company with more than 100 in the last five years.

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