Snapchat bidding big on search app Vurb with $110m bid

16 Aug 2016

Still navigating a route towards a consistently profitable destination, Snapchat is reportedly buying mobile search app Vurb for around $110m.

Though that figure only tells a little over half of the story, according to The Information, with additional costs ramping up the total cost.

Added to the purchase price will be almost as much spent on retention payouts to Vurb staff, as well as securing CEO Bobby Leo.


Vurb was created as a competitor to browser search engines. Completely adapted to mobile, it showed results tailored to handheld devices. This, along with an entirely different concept to the likes of Google – it tailored search results differently to endless lists – was hoped to give it an edge.

However, rather than revolutionise mobile search, it has instead fallen into Snapchat’s crosshairs, as the social media company continues its battle for relevancy.

Back in June, numbers emerged that showed Snapchat surpassing Twitter in daily usage figures – Snapchat has a reputed 150m users every day, Twitter has less than 140m daily users.

However, it’s not all good news. Snapchat’s existence is pinned on its ephemeral story-telling message service, with content lasting just hours before deletion.

Its competitors’ answer? Something similar.

Last month, Instagram brought the battle of the photo apps to a new level with the launch of Instagram Stories, where photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and don’t appear in your profile.

The idea behind Instagram Stories is that they are easy to share with who you want, as well as easy to keep hidden from those you don’t want to see them. Instagram has more than 500m users, of whom 300m use the app daily.

Twitter followed suit earlier this month by ramping up Moments, a user-curated story-telling platform of its own. Moments effectively allows users to collect and share tweets around specific events.

Ironically, Snapchat recently began introducing features that allow users to save old photos in a private archive, challenging Instagram’s primary service.

Main Snapchat image via ThomasDeco/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic