Yahoo acquires team behind Snapchat competitor Blink

Steven Loeb · May 14, 2014 · Short URL:

Blink, which was spun out of friend locator Kismet last year, will be shut down

(Updated with comment from Yahoo)

For the second time in less than a week, Snapchat is saying goodbye to one of its competitors: first it was Facebook's Poke app, which was shut down over the weekend, and now self destruct messaging app Blink is also saying goodbye after only a year in existence.

Don't feel too bad for the team behind Blink, though, because this is not bad news for them at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. You see, Blink has been purchased by Yahoo, the company has revealed in a blog post.

While no terms of the deal were disclosed, it has been confirmed to VatorNews by a person close to the deal that all seven of the Blink team members, including founders Kevin Stephens and Michelle Norgan, will be coming to work at Yahoo.

"We built Blink because we believe everyone should be free to show the same honesty and spontaneity in their online conversations as they can in person," Stephens and Norgan, wrote in the post. "We look forward to the possibilities that will come from bringing the Blink vision to Yahoo."

Blink was launched in April of 2013, as a spin-off of Kismet, an app for finding people nearby. It allowed users to send text messages which they would then set to expire after 10 seconds.

"Facebook taught us that you have to think before you write," Norgan told us at the time of Blink's debut. "The fact that I know that three or four years down the road that someone can go look at that Wall post, it kills the spontaneity and genuineness of conversations. It takes some joy of personality in real life."

Kismet, which won the People's Choice award at Splash SF in 2012 and was backed by AngelPad, Triple Point and NEA, is also being shut down, it has been confirmed to VatorNews.

As for what exactly the team will be working on when they get to Yahoo. It seems unlikely that Yahoo has any interest in a Snapchat-like service, though, or else it would have kept Blink alive and simply rolled it into its existing services.

A Yahoo spokesperson told VatorNews that the team "will focus on smart communication products."

The purchase of Blink continues Yahoo's acquisitions spree started by Marissa Mayer after she became CEO nearly two years ago. Last year the company bought 27 companies, and while not quite on that pace in 2014, Yahoo's has still already made nine acquisitions this year so far. 

The company also bought Aviate, a replacement Android home screen launcher, mobile marketing startup Sparq and virtual gaming company Cloud Party. Yahoo also bought enterprise app studio Tomfoolery and Incredible Labs, the company behind mobile personal assistant app Donna. It also picked up Wander, the company behind blogging app Days.

Yahoo bought Distill, a provider of a video interviewing and scheduling service for recruiters, in February and, most recently purchased visual identity platform Vizify in March.

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Joined Vator on

Vizify makes you look good online. 

Increasingly, people looking to learn more about you are looking you up online. Vizify transforms your social media content into a comprehensive graphical bio that highlights the best of you to people curious about you.

Our mission is to help you build your personal brand so you can impress potential bosses, clients, or even dates. 



Joined Vator on

Kismet connects you to your existing friends in the real world by simplifying getting together face to face. We show you which of your friends are nearby or alert you when the app isn't open, then make it simple to invite them to meet you.

When you're planning to get together with a group of any size, Kismet makes the experience simpler and more social. Users can invite their friends whether or not they are Kismet users. Non-users can easily reply from the web or their phone without having to install the app.

No longer do you need to send hundreds of text messages or try to follow long email threads just to meet for Happy Hour. Users are also notified automatically when other users arrive and depart the event, meaning you’ll never have to ask “Are you here yet?” 

Kismet was one of the most talked about companies of SXSW 2012, in the hot "ambient location" and "social discovery" space. Founded in 2011, Kismet was part of AngelPad's Winter 2011 class of startups, and has been lauded as one of the most privacy and user conscious apps in the space.



Marissa Mayer

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Kevin Stephens

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Co-founder and CEO of Blink, previously an early engineer at Google and YouTube. Also worked at Apple & Boxee. BS Computer Science, UCSD.

Michelle Norgan

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Michelle Norgan (Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Kismet) was previously on the founding team of a social startup where she designed and launched the company's Consumer Mobile and Web products.