Skype, now owned by Microsoft, has announced that it will acquire GroupMe, a 16-month old group messaging startup for $85 million. There are no public statements on the price of the deal, but AllThingsD has come up with the figure referring to sources close to the negotiations. The startup was founded based on work done in a hackathon at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York in May 2010. During the 16 months of its existence, GroupMe has raised $850 000 in seed financing and later $10.6 million in venture financing. Needless to say, the payout for the investment in such a short time period is fantastic.
The good news in all this is that since Skype is owned by Microsoft and Nokia will be working with Microsoft on the new Windows Phone devices - we could see GroupMe hit the new Nokia smartphones in the future in some form.
GroupMe allows phone users to create private groups in which users can SMS each other and initiate conference calls. Nothing too fancy, but according to RWW group messaging has become some what of a frenzy this year most likely fueling the valuation of GroupMe up north. Earlier this year Facebook acquired Beluga, another group messaging startup.
RWW also reports that Skype will be integrated deeply into the new Windows Phone platforms so bundling GroupMe into the package seems quite natural.
All in all, it's somewhat safe to say the mobile platform wars are heating up in an interesting way. We'll surely see more action in the coming months in this space as companies gear up to defend and develop their own offerings.