Photo-sharing app Kanvas has been acquired by AOL

Steven Loeb · August 31, 2015 · Short URL:

Numerous other mobile-sharing apps, including Path, Odysee and Lifecake, have been bought this year

(Updated to reflect confirmation of the acquisition from AOL)

Now that AOL has officially been a part of Verizon since the end of June, the company seems to be going on a bit of an acquisition spree, purchasing two companies in two weeks.

Less than a week after after buying Web development group Ashe Avenue, AOL has now made a more interesting purchase, picking up mobile app developer Kanvas Labs, it has been confirmed to VatorNews.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but Kanvas Labs will continue to offer its currrent apps, which include Kanvas, its photo editing app, as well as Kanvas Keyboard, an app that gives allows users to create imagines that can be combined with stickers and text. It also offers an app that integrates with Facebook Messenger. 

At the same time, the entire Kanvas Labs team will be joining AOL and working out of its New York City headquarters. There are also plans to integrate Kanvas' technology with AOL’s existing products. All five members of the Kanvas Labs team are joining the AOL Membership team.

"Kanvas Labs products will remain available to users and will also seamlessly plug into other AOL products and platforms. AOL will invest to scale Kanvas Labs' products and grow the company's global, millennial audience," a spokesperson for AOL told me. 

Kanvas has had an interesting history. The company was founded in late 2010, and launched Tracks in 2011, a company that let users create social networks around specific events. Essentially they were closed social networks, designed for specfic people, though the company did eventually debut features that helped open it up to larger groups as well. 

In 2013, the company launched Kanva, its photo-sharing app, and engagement exploded. Users started coming back to the app five to ten times every day, a number that was said to be climbing higher with the launch of a feature that rewarded users for sharing. 

In February of last year, Tracks pivoted completely, and rebranded itself as Kanvas. The company was said to be looking to sell off the Tracks app at that point, but it is unclear what exactly happened to it. It is not listed on the current Kanvas website.

Throughout its history, as Tracks and then Kanvas, the company has raised over $3 million.

That includes $1 million in seed funding from the venture arm of General Catalyst, TMT Investments, Eniac Ventures and others, in December 2011, as well as $437 million from TMT in November 2011, andanother $1 million in seed funding from KEC Ventures, Scout Ventures, Dace Ventures, and others at the time of the pivot. 

Mobile sharing acquisitions

Kanvas is just the latest mobile-sharing app to be acquired this year. In fact, I didn't notice it before, but this seems to have actually become something of a trend in 2015.

That has included Google purchasing Odysee, an app that allows users to back up their photos and videos to local storage, sync them across devices and share them with followers. There is speculation that the company will help Google bolster its efforts after it split Google+ into two parts, one for photos and another for streams. 

Lifecake, a photo-sharing app for families, allowing them to create photo and video timelines, was acquired by Canon in April, while Camerama, a private photo sharing app, where only invited friends can view photos, was purchased by Forbes Media in March.

There was another big mobile acquisition this year, that of troubled app Path by Korean Internet company Daum Kakao. The app, which launched in 2010 as a photo-sharing serviced, eventually chose to relaunch in November 2011, refocusing on other aspects of social sharing, including videos, messaging, songs and geolocation.

Path built its network around exclusivity; it only allows users to have a maximum of 150 friends. The limitation is meant to foster greater connections between people, and to encourage the sharing of more personal information. The idea is that you will only choose the people you are closest to, and will feel more comfortable telling those people more personal things about yourself. It is a more personal kind of social network.

Things never really worked out, though, at least not in the United States. Other social networks began surpassing it and, In 2013 alone, Path was fined by the FTC for privacy violations, was forced to lay off 20% of its staff and lost two of its key staff members, both its CTO and its head of business.

This news was firste reported by TechCrunch on Monday.

VatorNews has reached out to Kanvas comment on this acquisition. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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Tracks is building the experience graph.  The Tracks mobile and web service that lets users effortlessly make micro-social networks around real world experiences. 'Tracks’ can be geo, temporal or last forever. Make tracks for a family cruise, football season, date nights, pub crawls, a year in college. Each track is a living social network based on thematic experiences in the real world. Tracks are framed around rich media and made over time and across locations. This lightweight concept lets users map fluid real world networks.