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Monday August 22, 2011 10:49 am

GroupMe acquired by Skype

groupme skype

Skype might still be in a holding pattern from Microsoft's May announcement that it was acquiring the company for $8.5 billion, but that hasn't stopped Skype from picking up a brand-new purchase of its own. The company announced today that it is planning to acquire GroupMe, a group text messaging and conference calling service that's just a year and change into its existence.

The actual cost of the acquisition and other terms of the transaction won't be disclosed, according to Skype's announcement.

"The acquisition of GroupMe complements Skype's leadership in voice and video communications by providing best in class text-based communications and innovative features that enable users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest tie," reads Skype's statement.

Born at the May TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in 2010—a contest the new company didn't even win, we note—GroupMe proceeded to chug through a total of two funding rounds before being picked up by Skype. The first, an $850,000 financing round, included SV Angel, First Round Capital, Lerner Ventures, and a number of other angel investors. The second round brought the company a cool $10.6 million right at the start of 2011—Khosla Ventures led the round, but was joined by General Catalyst Partners as a new investor and a number of the company's previous investors from the first financing round.

Skype plans to keep GroupMe as a standalone service for now, but intends to research potential integration points with Skype's primary capabilities over time.

"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," said Skype CEO Tony Bates in a statement.

GroupMe's service is fairly simple on its face: A single phone number serves as the connection point for a group of users, who can all be "added" to the group conversation via a text message that notifies them that they're a part of the mass communication. Any texts sent to this unique number get resent to everyone in the "group," as if you were all communicating in a giant chat room via your phones. The beauty of the service lies in its simplicity—any phone that supports SMS will support GroupMe.

But that's not all. Any user can call the unique "group" number, which then dials every group member and places answering users into one giant conference call. It's easy, fun technology for mass communications across phones of all shapes, sizes, and designs—albeit a potentially overwhelming way to communicate should you find yourself added to a giant group of chatters. And here's the big question: Will Skype try to monetize GroupMe to turn a profit from these mass-texters and callers, or will it continue to offer GroupMe's services for free?

This article, written by David Murphy, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.



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