Snapchat reportedly acquires mobile search engine Vurb

The company is said to have paid $110 million, plus bonuses to retain employees

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 16, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/46ca

Here's the $64,000 question: what would Snapchat want with a mobile search engine?

Actually, make that the $110 million question, since that's what the company paid for mobile search and recommendation app Vurb, according to a report in The Information on Monday. The deal breaks down as 75 percent stock, and 25 percent cash.

Snapchat seems particularly interested in keeping the team around, and is looking to offer employees retention payouts that total nearly as much as the purchase price, including $75 million to founder and CEO Bobby Lo.

Vurb connects users to information and tools from apps and services in a single mobile platform. That includes apps like Google Maps, Rotten Tomatoes, Yelp and Fandango. Just last week, Vurb introduced personalized recommendations onto the app. 

The company describes its mission as wanting "to create a smarter, more connected digital world, empowering people globally to do more of what they want, all in one place."

"Vurb is the only search app that goes beyond mere search. We help you easily find, save, and do the best things by connecting community recommendations, rich content, and useful services — personalized for you in one simple app," the company says.

"Whether you are looking for inspiration in travel, entertainment, or just want to find dinner, Vurb brings you results you need to have the best experiences, share your plans with friends, or save your own ideas for later." 

Given how much money Snapchat is willing to dole out to keep the team, this would seem to be something of an acqui-hire, but it is interesting to think of the ways that the company could incorporate some of Vurb's technology as well.

Snapchat could possibly go the Facebook Messenger route and start integrating third-party services. Messenger teamed up with Uber back in December, letting users call a cab without having to leave the app. In March, Messenger partnered up with Spotify, making it easier to share playlists or songs.

Even if Snapchat didn't want to start making these types of partnerships, Vurb could simply be useful in helping users navigate the app, and to find content. With the launch of Memories, there will now be content on Snapchat that never disappears. Vurb's experience with search could help users find the things that they've saved.

Founded in 2011, Vurb had raised $10 million, from investors that included Tencent, Vivi Nevo, Marc Benioff, Redpoint Ventures, Susa Ventures Max Levchin, Drew Houston, and CrunchFund. 

This would be Snapchat's third acquisition so far this year. It also bought Bitstrips, an app that allows people to create comic strip versions of themselves, for a reported $100 million, as well as 3D photo app maker Seene for an undisclosed price. 

A spokesperson for Snapchat would not comment on the report, nor would Susa Ventures. VatorNews also reached out to Vurb for confirmation, and we will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: vurb.com)

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