Skype Gets Into Group Messaging With GroupMe Buy
Skype shows off some more acquisition aggression by picking up group messaging start-up GroupMe for around US$ 80 million. 

Skyping in Groups

Leading VoIP service, and Microsoft acquiree, Skype is making a lot of headlines these days. Last week, it launched its own Wi-Fi app for iOS devices to encourage wider use of Skype credit, and now it is picking up GroupMe and its mobile group comms apps for a rumored US$ 80 million.

GroupMe's existing application for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7, and recently released in its third version, allows users to text and make conference calls with defined groups of friends or workers. There's a more limited BlackBerry version, which could be upgraded for the new BB7 phones.

Just a year old, the company claims 100 million messages per month and has found itself fighting other startups in the group herding business, plus big names like Facebook moving from social to comms, and Google with its Circles feature.

The deal gives the smaller company a good home with a massive future, while Skype gets a useful range of features with which to keep up with its many rivals that it can bolt into the various Skype applications. 

Follow your friends and chat or call with GroupMe

Follow your friends and chat or call with GroupMe

A Broader Future

GroupMe's mobile features could soon well find themselves built into Skype's desktop apps, even MIcrosoft's Xbox console that it plans to bring the VoIP service to at some point into the future. Skype probably already had GroupMe on its radar, but the startup company was already working with Microsoft via its BizSpark initiative.

With all sorts of grouping activity in the mobile sphere, from vouchers to social communications, there are plenty of other smaller companies that the big players may be looking to snap up, particularly as investors may be looking to cash out via a buy-out rather than an IPO given the growing financial uncertainty.