Snapchat is said to be finalizing the acquisition of popular mobile search app Vurb for over $110 million worth of cash and stock, The Information reported. With the purchase, Snapchat may be looking to address one of the biggest complaints that users have had on the service, and that is the difficulty to search for things within the platform.
The Information reported that Snapchat will pay 75 percent of the acquisition amount in stock and 25 percent in cash, with retention bonuses worth $75 million also being offered to keep Vurb CEO and founder Bobby Lo. Vurb, the winner of the Disrupt NY 2014 Startup Battlefield competition of TechCrunch, has a unique take on mobile search, focusing on browsing instead of endless results page. Vurb bundles searches that users make on the service to share with friends, making mobile decision-making a collaborative effort which traditional search engines are not able to do.
For example, a user can learn more about a movie, find a theater that is playing the film along with a restaurant nearby and then bundle the information to be sent to friends. The card-based interface of Vurb acquires information from partners including Rotten Tomatoes and Yelp, and can deep-link users to Google Maps and Uber. Vurb later launched an instant messaging feature to help in making plans with friends, and just recently added more personalized recommendations.
The 5-year-old startup makes it very convenient to carry out searches, discover trending topics and accomplish tasks. However, it has not found much success on Apple’s App Store for iOS devices and on the Google Play Store for Android devices. What Snapchat plans to do with Vurb upon the completion of the acquisition remains unclear. The company might be looking to repurpose Vurb’s technology to integrate its services within Snapchat’s messaging platform or to use it in future features involving recommendations and topics discovery.
Snapchat could also be looking to make it easier for its users to find other users to follow, or to search for content released by media outlets and brands. Currently, users can only find other users on Snapchat by typing in their username or acquiring the Snapchat QR code of the user. Media outlets and brands have to use other mediums to inform users that they have released more content, unless they are located in the app’s Discover section. Vurb is the second acquisition of Snapchat this year, as it purchased Bitstrips for $100 million in March. Months after, the company released Bitmojis, which are customizable cartoon-like avatars, in July.
Although we know that, Snapchat has cash for acquisitions, having raised more than $2 billion from investors over the last five years and that it didn’t acknowledge a handful of prior acquisitions until technology from the companies became integrated into its app. But, its different this time around, with Snapchat trying to acquire vurb before it makes an App. This is it for now, stay tuned for further updates.