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Skype buys GroupMe group-texting service

August 22, 2011 |  9:13 am

Screen Shot 2011-08-22 at 8.51.38 AM

Skype has acquired GroupMe, a New York-based group text messaging service for smartphones.

The two companies announced the deal without saying just how much Skype was paying for GroupMe, but the website AllThingsD has reported that the price came in at about $85 million.

GroupMe -- which can be used by way of SMS text message, or through apps on Apple's iOS, Google's Android and BlackBerry phones and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 -- is just about a year old, started by Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht.

"Over the last few months we had been in talks with Skype that started with discussions about potential commercial partnerships," GroupMe said in a blog post Sunday. "As we got to know the core Skype team better, though, and as our conversations evolved, it quickly became evident that our visions were perfectly aligned. Both companies are focused on changing the way the world communicates and helping people stay in touch with the people they really know. With a shared vision -- an ambitious one -- we decided our efforts to own real-time communications and the real life network could be best executed as one company."

However, while GroupMe will be owned by Skype (Microsoft's purchase of Skype, worth $8.5 billion, hasn't been completed as of yet) both companies said that GroupMe would remain based in New York with its team of employees intact and working as an independent company.

"The major difference will be that we will now have access to Skype’s 175 million monthly connected users," GroupMe said in its blog post.

Tony Bates, Skype's chief executive, said in a blog post that buying GroupMe was a step toward Skype offering a text-based communication product to pair with what it already offers in voice and video calling.

"It complements our existing leadership in voice and video communications by providing best in class mobile text-based communications and innovative features around group messaging that enable users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest ties," Bates said.

GroupMe will equip Skype, and eventually Microsoft, with a group-messaging service to compete with Google+'s Huddle feature, Facebook Messenger, and a group-messaging feature called iMessage that will come to Apple's iPhone in the fall launch of iOS 5.

RELATED:

Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion

Microsoft's takeover of Skype approved by FTC

Bill Gates says he pushed for Microsoft to buy Skype

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: GroupMe's iOS app in use on an Apple iPhone. Credit: GroupMe

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