The merging of mobile communications and personal computing into a single market has became even more marked earlier this week when Skype, which is itself being bought by Microsoft for $8.6 billion, reported that it has acquired GroupMe, a smartphone application for Android phones which allows people to send messages, share data and photos with a group. TechCrunch believes that the initial payment for GroupMe is $43 million, and deferred payments (or an earnout) can get the GroupMe shareholders as much as $68 million over four years. The founders will receive another few million dollars as part of their long term employment agreements. The company was only founded a year ago with $11.5 million investment.
GroupMe was developed for friends to contact each other and arrange parties, but has expanded rapidly into the small business market in four key ways:
1. Groups can be created across a company as well as in specific departments.
2. Data can be sent to groups as well as texts - this is cheaper than sending texts.
3. Individuals in the group can also be contacted – the groups can be easily managed.
4. Conference calls are quick and easy – you only need to call the group number and everyone is on the call.
And it works in 90 countries , with users sending 100 million messages a month.
Tony Bates, Skype’s CEO said ‘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.’
Skype hopes to expand its presence in the rapidly increasing smartphone market. Competitors in the group smartphone messaging market are Facebook’s group chat app, Blackberry Messenger and Apple’s iMessage as well as Google+.