Skype pushes into social messaging with GroupMe acquisition


Skype has entered a definitive agreement to purchase group messaging solutions startup GroupMe, a move that significantly expands the Internet telephony services provider's mobile services portfolio. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, although multiple reports suggest the acquisition totals north of $80 million.

The GroupMe application enables users to text and make conference calls with circles of friends or colleagues across multiple operating systems, with smartphone apps optimized for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The firm has raised a total of about $11.5 million in venture financing since launching in August 2010. Despite the GroupMe service's popularity among consumers, the company faces growing competition as tech goliaths including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook, which are ramping up their own mobile messaging initiatives to roll out group messaging solutions of their own.

The GroupMe deal heralds Skype's second significant mobile acquisition this year: In January, the company snapped up mobile video software and services provider Qik. The Qik platform enables consumers to capture and share video across mobile devices, the web and the desktop--content can be shared in real time or archived.

Skype touts more than 170 million connected users and served 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash in May, promising increased accessibility of real-time video and voice communications across platforms including Windows Phone, Xbox and Kinect. A month later, the proposed deal earned Federal Trade Commission approval.

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