Microsoft-acquired Skype snaps up GroupMe

Ronny Kerr · August 22, 2011 · Short URL:

Messaging on mobile isn't just about video and voice: Skype acquires GroupMe for its group text

The big fish eats the medium fish and the medium fish swallows the small fish. Three months after being acquired by Microsoft, Skype is making its own acquisition.

Skype announced Sunday that it has agreed to acquire GroupMe, provider of mobile group messaging applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, the GroupMe team will remain intact at its headquarters in New York City and will continue to work on its own application.

"Skype and GroupMe have a shared vision of creating applications and experiences that are the daily communications choice for a billion people. We will continue to seek the top talent and technology to make that vision a reality," said Tony Bates, Skype's Chief Executive Officer. "The GroupMe team has created an incredibly sticky group messaging experience that works across mobile devices and platforms, making this a perfect addition to the voice, video and text products in the Skype family.”

The beneift is obvious for Skype: it gains immediate access to a thriving text-based communication service. (We know GroupMe thrives because it had raised over $11 million in venture capital from a list of prominent investors: Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst, First Round Capital, and previous backers SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, and betaworks.)

GroupMe, in turn, is thrilled to access the eyes of Skype’s 175 million monthly users.

Acquisition hadn’t been the intention on either side since the outset. Rather, Skype and GroupMe originally met to discuss possible partnerships. According to GroupMe’s official blog post about the news:

Over the last few months, we had been in talks with Skype that started with discussions about potential commercial partnerships. As we got to know the core Skype team better, though, and as our conversations evolved, it quickly became evident that our visions were perfectly aligned. Both companies are focused on changing the way the world communicates, and helping people stay in touch with the people they really know. With a shared vision—an ambitious one—we decided our efforts to own real-time communications and the real life network could be best executed as one company.

The newly announced acquisition is of extra interest because it comes five months after Facebook picked up the two-person team behind Beluga, another startup that had been developing a mobile group messaging application. A week and a half ago, the fruits of that acquisition came to light in the form of Facebook Messenger, a new app for Android and iPhone built specifically for mobile messaging.

That’s not all, though.

In early July, Facebook announced the launch of video chat on its own platform, made possible via a partnership with Skype. And largely unnoticed behind all of these workings is Microsoft, who not only bought Skype in May for $8.5 billion in cash but also owns a stake in Facebook.

If it ever could, it can no longer be denied: the Microsoft-Skype-Facebook complex is working diligently at controlling the mediums for social communication in the 21st century. Apple and Google: your move.

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