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Yahoo’s Acquisition of Blink Is More About Talent Than Entering the Self-Destructing Messaging Space
Posted on May 15th 2014
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer seems in no mood to put a full stop on her acquiring list. In a recent development reported by TC, Blink, a mobile messaging application that lets users share self-destructing messages, has been acquired by Yahoo. The deal term hasn’t been disclosed.
With this development, all seven Blink team members, including the founders, will now be joining Yahoo. Blink has shared on its blog that in the coming weeks the app will shut down too, making it a pure talent hiring acquisition.
Blink is a product of Meh Labs, a company founded by ex-Googler Kevin Stephens and Michelle Norgan. The app initially was focused on location-based service called Kismet which grew popular around the time of SXSW 2012. This was the time when apps like Highlight and Banjo were starting to take off.
Highlight had some cool technology to back it up but it turned out that people were just not interested in such location based discovery apps that turned out into a bubble. Serendipitous discovery of people didn’t work, some apps pivoted and some even got lucky like Glancee which was acquired by Facebook back in May, 2012.
Blink pivoted to the next big flourishing trend of private mobile messaging. Last year it launched on iOS and later it made its presence on Android. Today users are able to text and share photos, videos, voice and more, with individuals or groups. These messages’ visibility could be controlled with a timer, so users can set how long they could be read or viewed after tapping. With this it entered the crowded space of messaging dominated by the likes of Snapchat, Frankly, Confide, Wickr, and others.
Nevertheless, the popularity of Blink has been growing even outside US too. When it launched on Android at the beginning of 2014 it revealed that the app had around 100,000 downloads. The company also stated that just over half of its user base was located in the U.S., while it was beginning to gain some ground in the Middle East, which became its second-largest market.
In fact there were plans by the founders to tap the Middle East market by providing localization features and plans to introduce pro features that would help make Blink something that could be used by contractors or business users.
But with the Yahoo buyout these plans were anyways shelved since the deal looks like more about the talent behind the app, rather than the app itself. Both Yahoo and the founders at Blink are tight-lipped about the deal.
While the deal may not be a jaw breaking one like the Facebook- WhatsApp deal that happened earlier this year but it is being reported that the investors – Triple Point, NEA, AngelPad, and others are “pretty happy” with the exit.
Yahoo’s focus of late has been on content but it wants the team of Blink to work on the company’s “smart communication products.” Earlier Yahoo has made deals to bolster its communication products team. In December, the company bought the startup behind the personal assistant app Donna, and shut down the app so the team could work specifically on Yahoo Mail, which falls under Yahoo’s communication products department.
But it looks like Yahoo doesn’t want to enter the self destructing messaging space otherwise Snapchat would have been a worthy buy considering its popularity among teens.