GroupMe just celebrated its first year as a startup and now, as a birthday present, the company is getting a buyout from Skype. Officially, the purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but $50 and $85 million have been reported as the “insider’s” number for the deal.
Skype itself is being purchased by Microsoft, but that deal hasn’t completed yet. According to TechCrunch, the deal comes right after GroupMe closed another round of financing to the tune of $850,000. Skype CEO Tony Bates, TC says, reports that he was in talks with GroupMe at about the same time Microsoft approached them about acquisition, so the two have been running in parallel.
Skype will likely keep GroupMe as a stand-alone brand, but integrate it with the Skype service. The addition of the cell phone grouping for text messaging service might be a great addition to the instant message, video conferencing, etc. giant.
Naysayers, however, like Om Malik at GigaOm, don’t think it’s enough. Why? Because Skype is integrated with Facebook and will likely be purchased by Microsoft. None of those companies offer interactive communication, only traditional back-and-forth amongst those who are already acquainted.
Google, on the other hand, has opened up a whole new field with their inclusion of Hangouts in Google+. This allows masses of people to get together at the same time, so long as they’re loosely connected, and chat ad hoc. Something Skype and Facebook aren’t capable of.
So why would Skype pay a reported $85M for GroupMe? Well, the service is definitely unique and is not something anyone else is offering. Mobile phones are the future of connecting and some believe that SMS messaging could take the place of email for many of our communiques.