Tinder dives into video with acquisition of Wheel

Wheel is a social video collaboration app, allowing people to contribute to each other's stories

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 16, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/48ef

I spent six months talking to my girlfriend online before we ever met in person. Not only that, but we only chatted through AIM and never even spoke on the phone that entire time.

I think it would be almost unheard of now, not only because that's pretty weird (for the record it was her idea, not mine) but because the advances in technology since then, specifically in terms of the rise of social video, have made it just that much easier to connect with people. If we met now, we'd probably be FaceTiming and Snapping videos to each other on a daily basis.

Tinder is recognizing the increasing demand for video, so it announced on Thursday that it has acquired social video app Wheel. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

Founded as Ferris in 2012, Wheel is collaborative video app, allowing multiple contributors to the same stream to order to create video stories. That's not far off from what companies like Snap and Instagram are currently doing. 

This is how Wheel describes itself on its iOS app page: "Wheel is the place where creative personalities start a video, and anyone can join in. Check out hilarious, inspiring or intriguing videos- and then jump in to add your own take to the story. This is your chance to shine. Once the Wheel starts moving, it can really go anywhere, resulting in surprising twists and turns."

This looks to be a talent acquisition for Tinder, as all four of Wheel’s employees and co-founders will be joining the team at Tinder in West Hollywood, including Chris Shaheen, Brian Daugherty, Paul Boukadakis and Joey Boukadakis. Paul Boukadakis will become Tinder's Vice President of Special Initiatives, and Shaheen will step into a senior role on the development team.

There's no indication as to whether or not Tinder will incorporate and of Wheel's functionalities, including the ability to collaborate on video, into its own product, nor how it plans to use video on the app going forward. A spokesperson for Tinder would not elaborate on the company's future video plans.

That said, it is clear that Tinder users will be getting access to video capabilities at some point in the near future.

We are always exploring new ways to innovate while helping our users make  connections on Tinder,” Brian Norgard, Head of Product and Revenue at Tinder, said in a statement.  “I’m excited Paul is joining our product team to drive special initiatives that leverage his experience connecting people around innovative content.”

This is not the first time that Tinder has experimented with making its app more social. Last year the company launched Tinder Social, allowing users to find what their friends as up to, as well as other people with similar plans who want to hang out. The feature is ephemeral, deleting all groups and contacts the next day.

In 2015, Wheel raised $2 million in venture funding in 2015 from Allen DeBevoise, Daher Capital, Jeff Dachis, Third Wave Digital, Tim Sanders and Upfront Ventures.

The rise of social video

Social video is on the rise, and all of the big social networks have seen their numbers in the space jump in the last couple of years. 

Snapchat reached 10 billion daily video views in April of last year, quintupling the number in a less than year, growing from only 2 billion views the previous March. It also managed to surpass Facebook in that metric at that time. 

Twitter saw video consumption on the platform grow 220x in the 12 months between May 2015 and May 2016.

Despite having Snapchat beat it in at least one metric, Facebook is also doing pretty well for itself. In November 2015, Facebook announced it was seeing 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users. That was up from 4 billion video views per day only eight months prior.

With that kind of success, it was only a matter of time before other apps began trying to take advantage of the technology. In addition to Tinder's video ambitions, there's also Kickstarter, which launched Kickstarter Live in November, to allow organizers and potential backers to interact with each other in real time. Earlier this month, the company bought the live video streaming service that has helped it build that feature.

(Image source: itunes.apple.com)

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