Skype Buys GroupMe Messaging Provider

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GroupMe gives Skype a group messaging application to face off with Facebook, Apple, Google and RIM

Skype is to acquire GroupMe, a start-up that allows smartphone users to share text messages, photos and locations with private groups, the companies said on Monday.

The technology will give Skype a new tool in the battle against rival services from giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook, who are all making smartphone software that includes group messaging.

Everyone competes with RIM’s BBM

Those companies are all facing off against Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger application, which has gained a wide following with its group messaging features, which have been used by everyone including UK looters.

The deal, rumoured at $80 million (£49m) is a boost for GroupMe, which says its platform sends 100 million messages a month.

Group messaging services are available for Apple and Google’s smartphone platforms, and Facebook recently launched a similar instant messaging application in the US based on technology acquired along with Beluga, one of GroupMe’s rivals.

“We think the mobile group messaging space is very important,” said Tony Bates, Skype chief executive Tony Bates, in a statement. “It means furthering the breaking down of barriers to global communications.”

GroupMe and Skype will continue to operate as separate companies for the time being, but the companies said they are looking to integrate further down the line. All 20 of GroupMe’s staff will make the move to Skype.

Alignment

“There was perfect alignment,” said GroupMe co-founder Steve Martocci in a statement. “There are a lot of different areas where we can integrate.”

In May Microsoft agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5bn, and the deal was approved in June by the US Federal Trade Commission, but is awaiting approval from the European Commission. In the meantime, Skype is continuing to operate separately from Microsoft and to push ahead with its own strategy.

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