Snapchat in the skies? Snap banks on drone acquisition

31 May 2017

Snapchat. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Snapchat owner Snap is going down the tangible route, as expected, with the purchase of a drone manufacturer adding an interesting string to its bow.

Snapchat is a weird tool. When it emerged it was weird, as it evolved it became weirder, and where it’s heading is, presumably, weirder still.

However, weird sells. It sells so much that massive tech companies such as Facebook are busy copying as many elements of Snapchat’s offering as possible, across multiple apps.

Future Human

So it’s about time that Snap, the owner of Snapchat, began copying some of its (now spooked) rivals. Notably, VR and drones are on the menu.

Snapchat, Snap, Drones, Filters

Attack of the drones

For example, this week it emerged that Snap spent around $1m on Ctrl Me Robotics, a small drone manufacturer based in LA.

In a push for hardware – with other related moves of note – the acquisition comes after a number of rumours surrounding Snap’s drone plans.

There is also quite a lot of sense to the deal or, rather, a deal to get into drones. Snap considers itself a camera company, and drones are the largest disrupters of the camera industry in decades.

According to BuzzFeed, the deal was “something of an acquihire”, with Ctrl Me Robotics founder and drone entrepreneur Simon Saito Nielsen joining Snap, along with some company assets and equipment.

Spectacles and filters

In other recent moves, Snap introduced Spectacles, a pretty limited sunglasses product with a built-in camera. It wasn’t entirely innovative, though it did add to the pre-IPO hype earlier this year.

However, there are many elements to the camera industry, and Snap is eyeing up more and more of them.

In the rush towards a mixed reality future, geofilter real estate is big business for advertisers and social networks.

Snap last month acquired the geofilter patent belonging to Instagram competitor Mobli for $7.7m. In its recent S-1 filing, Snap revealed that $360m of its $400m revenues came from geofilters.

Geofilters are photo filters based on location that can be bought by advertisers. Mobli, the company that was co-founded by serial entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, patented the idea of geofilters in 2012.

Snapchat. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic