Skype [aka Microsoft] buys GroupMe for US$85m

22 Aug 2011

Just months after being acquired by Microsoft, Skype has gone and bought the popular US group messaging app company GroupMe for between US$50m and US$85m.

GroupMe enables group SMS conferencing so users can update entire groups of friends or colleagues with one message. It has attracted US$11.5m in funding to date and employs 20 people.

The move indicates how Skype wants to generate a greater presence in the mobile world beyond VoiP and video calling.

The acquisition comes at an interesting juncture for voice over IP (VoIP), internet video and various messaging platforms.

Software and internet giants are becoming telecoms players in their own right, relegating traditional telecoms providers to just infrastructure providers or ‘dumb pipes’, while they garner the intelligence and the customer engagement.

Examples of this change can be seen in the emergence of services like Viber, Facebook Messenger, Google’s Huddle app and Microsoft’s Linc unified communications app for businesses.

In recent months Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype and Skype’s subsequent deal to put video calling inside Facebook as well as a major iOS upgrade to its Skype WiFi product which provides low cost connectivity across 1m hotspots are indicative that a quiet revolution is happening in telecoms.

Microsoft and other ICT giants may end up being the user’s first port of call for sophisticated communications services beyond paying a flat fee for broadband access. Expect things to get very interesting when Windows Phone 7 comes out.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years