Snapchat confirms Bitstrips purchase, integrates Bitmojis

The company has been rolling out features for sprucing up content, including animated emoji on video

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
July 19, 2016
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While Snapchat's main selling point at the beginning of its life was its disappearing content, that seems to have shifted recently in favor of another aspect: creativity. The company, with its lenses and stickers, allows its users to create some really cool, and interesting, content.

Now, it has added in personalized emoji through the acquisition of Bitstrips, an app that allows people to create comic strip versions of themselves. The crucial aspect of buying Bitstrips was getting access to Bitmoji, which allows users to create avatars of themselves, then insert them anywhere they communicate on the Web, including Gmail, Messenger and Slack.

The purchase was first reported back in March, but neither company would comment the deal at the time. Now Snapchat has finally confirmed it through, of course, a comic strip.

All the members of the Bitstrips team will be coming to work at Snapchat. The purchase price of the deal was reportedly $100 million, but a spokesperson for Snapchat would not comment on the financial details.

Bitmojis will be available within two areas of the Snapchat experience: chat sticker and snap stickers.

In order to access Bitmojis, users have to download the Bitmoji app, create their Bitmoji avatar, and then go to Snapchat Settings to link their accounts. If they already have a Bitmoji account, they will be able to link that to their Snapchat account, or create a new Bitmoji specificially for Snapchat.

Users will also be able to include their Bitmoji along with a friend, which Snapchat is calling "Friendmojis." If a user double taps to reply to a Snap, Friendmojis will appear in Snap stickers. If they Chat their friend, they can find Friendmojis in stickers.

All of this fits right in with Snapchat's modus operandi, which is to give its users all sorts of ways to spruce up their photos before they send them. It offers lenses, which include a fake mustache or rainbow vomit or, most famously, the ability to face-swap.

Lenses became so popular that the company launched the lenses store in November of last year, charging users 99 cents to permanently buy one of 30 available lenses. Basically, if someone wanted to have access to the rainbow puke, for example, they could pay 99 cents for that lens and then keep it forever.

Eventually the company shut the store down, choosing instead to focus on branded lenses as a way to make money, but they remain popular, and the company has continued unveiling new ways to spruce up photos and videos. In March, it unveiled Chat 2.0,  which added more than 200 stickers that would be searched for by keyword. In April, the company added the ability to include animated emojis in videos

There's a good reason that Snapchat is putting so much emphasis on content: of its 150 million daily active users, over two-thirds of them create content every day. The ability to create cool content to send is obviously very appealing to its userbase. 

All of this additional content is not the only way that Snapchat has been changing. Earlier this month, it debuted Memories, a way to save Snaps and Stories on Snapchat, allowing users to archive their own content. As the company evolves, the whole "disappearing content" aspect seems less and less important/ 

Bitstrips was the fifth acquisition for Snapchat. The company had previously purchased voice and video chat company AddLive for $30 million; facial recognition startup Looksery for $150 million; Vergence Labs, a company that was working on a Google Glass-like device called Epiphany Eyewear, for $15 million; and, a QR scanning and iBeacon startup, for $50 million.

Since then it has made one other purchase, buying 3D photo app maker Seene for an undisclosed amount in June. 

Founded in 2007, the Toronto-based Bitstrips has raised $11 million in venture capital funding from investors that include Horizons Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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