Snapchat reportedly paid over $250 million for an app that lets you track your friends
And it looks like Snapchat's parent company is already using Zenly's technology.
Snap Inc., bought Zenly for somewhere between $250 million to $350 million, according to TechCrunch. It's not clear when it completed the acquisition.
Snap declined to comment. Zenly did not respond to request for comment.
French-based Zenly created a location app that allows users to see where their friends are, but in a way that doesn't drain their phones' batteries. Popular in Europe, the Zenly app feeds on teenagers' fear of missing out. Users return to the app again and again to make sure they're not missing out on a hot party or event with their friends.
On Wednesday, Snapchat unveiled Snap Maps, a new feature that allows Snapchat users to see where their friends are on a map. A trailer for the feature showed two women browsing a map in Snapchat and tapping on a nearby location to see friends sharing videos from an ongoing concert. Users will also be able to browse photos and videos from specific locations around the world, including breaking news events.
After Snapchat launched the new feature, TechCrunch and others were quick to point out just how similar it looked to Zenly's app. It likely wasn't just a coincidence, given Snapchat's acquisition of the company.
The $250 million to $350 million that Snap paid for Zenly could make the acquisition the largest ever for the camera app maker. Snap's most recent acquisition - and its biggest reported one previously - was its rumored purchase of startup Placed, an advertising tracking company, that reportedly cost $200 million. However, Snap is is known for its secrecy when it comes to snapping up startups, so it could have made larger purchases that just haven't been reported yet.
Zenly had raised over $35 million from Silicon Valley's top investors. When Business Insider broke the news of its funding by one of Twitter's earliest investors last September, Zenly lacked a connection to a social network that could turn its amazing location-tracking feature into something more than just a creepy tool to for users to keep tabs on their friends. Snapchat's acquisition will give Zenly that opportunity, although Zenly will continue to operate its own app independently, according to TechCrunch.
One reason Zenly was likely a hot acquisition target compared to makers of other location-tracking apps is that its app is more power efficient. Instead of constantly monitoring users' locations - and running down their phones' batteries in the process - the app only determines them when their friends look them up on their phones.
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