Twitter has acquired London-based chat app Sphere, which was co-founded by British serial entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio.

For those with long memories, his name may ring a bell, because it was back in 2013 when D’Aloisio was just 17-years old, when Yahoo acquired his news aggregator Summly for a reported $30 million. D’Aloisio had founded Summly when he was just 15 years old.

Yahoo Acquires UK Teen’s Smartphone News App Summly

Now Sphere, D’Aloisio’s latest venture which he co-founded in 2016, have been acquired by Twitter for an undisclosed sum.

Twitter

Sphere had started life in 2016 as a real-time question and answer app that involved micropayments before it pivoted to become more of a group chat app.

D’Aloisio started Sphere while studying computer science and philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he met his co-founder, Tomas Halgas.

The news that Twitter was acquiring the London-based app was revealed by Nick Caldwell, vice president of engineering at Twitter.

“Excited to share some news! The @spheremessenger team will join Twitter,” Caldwell tweeted.

“The Sphere team’s expertise and leadership’s passion for finding ways to help people connect will help accelerate our Communities, DM, and Creators roadmaps,” he added.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team, welcome to Twitter!,” he concluded.

Sphere meanwhile announced the news of its acquisition by Twiter in a blog post.

“We’re excited to share some big news today – Sphere has been acquired by Twitter!” both D’Aloisio and Halgas wrote. “We’ve joined to accelerate our mission of bringing people closer together through community.”

“It’s been a long and exciting journey to this point,” they wrote. “Like many startups, Sphere started with a very different mission – to help anyone find and share knowledge instantly through the creation of a “global brain”.

They said that Sphere had developed a way to resolve one of the problems with group chats, namely a self-clearing feed.

Self-clearing feed

“Our feed automatically clears out old or irrelevant chats to prevent groups from feeling chaotic,” they wrote. “Our chats call out essential messages (like polls, events, and announcements) and make it more likely for people to respond.”

This self-clearing feed, with chats that automatically archive, users can focus on what they care about, brought Sphere to the attention of Twitter.

“There are only a few companies today who believe in this vision and are in a position to make meaningful progress towards it,” both co-founders wrote. “Much like others, we’ve been watching and admiring Twitter’s growing investment in community-building with the release of Communities, Spaces, and features that promote safety.”

“When we met the team, we were even more impressed by how seriously they are pursuing interest-based community and how much they believe in its potential impact,” they added. “Today’s announcement means we have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned at Sphere and bring our efforts to a whole new level.”

Sphere will be winding down its standalone product next month, but its team of 20 will be moving over to Twitter.

“We can’t think of a better home for this work and are beyond excited to get started,” they said. “We want to thank all of the people who made Sphere a special place – our customers, advisors, investors, and friends.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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