The natural circle of life is very much a part of the new tech boom. Smaller fish get eaten by bigger fish, and even bigger fish eat those fish. TechCrunch broke the news today that Skype has purchased the group-messaging start-up GroupMe. Skype was bought by Microsoft in May for $8.5 billion. (The transaction is still pending, according to TechCrunch). The terms of the GroupMe purchase were not disclosed, but New York Observer's BetaBeat is reporting the company was sold for more than $50 million, but less than $100 million. GroupMe was just over a year old, and acted as a text messaging answer to email's "reply all" button. The service offers users a way to hold a conversation with multiple people via texts. If you're planning breakfast with a group of people, everyone can throw in suggestions for restaurants and decide where to go in one conversation. GroupMe has only had $11.5 million in funding, so if the reported price is real, everyone is getting a healthy return on their investment.
All of GroupMe's employees are staying with the company, and it will stay independent from Skype. The two guys who started GroupMe, Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, are getting official Microsoft job titles, and will stay on running GroupMe going forward.
The GroupMe team wrote about the purchase on their blog:
This has been a remarkable year for GroupMe, and we believe that this is a big win. And not just a big win for GroupMe and our amazing investors, but also for New York City. As part of the deal, GroupMe will remain in New York, team intact, working on our standalone application. The major difference will be that we will now have access to Skype’s 175 million monthly connected users. 175 million people. That’s a very big deal.
When we first started GroupMe, we set out to achieve two major goals. The first was to solve a very simple problem we had as individuals: how do we stay in touch and coordinate with our friends better in real-time? The second was a bit bigger: how can we change the way people across the globe communicate and get together better in real life? We solved problem #1, and our efforts alongside Skype will accelerate the execution of problem #2 tenfold. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
TechCrunch spoke to Skype CEO Tony Bates on Sunday, who said GroupMe was going help Skype bolster its mobile offerings. “GroupMe creates a very sticky instant feeling. Like Skype, it is an everyday interactive form of communication. Skype’s goal is to get to 1 billion users. Mobile is the place to do that.”