Snapchat acquires social map app Zenly for $250M to $350M



Snapchat’s newest feature, Snap Map, is based on its latest acquisition, social mapping startup Zenly. TechCrunch has learned that Snapchat has bought Zenly for between $250 million and $350 million in mostly cash and some stock in a deal that closed in late May. Snapchat will keep Zenly running independently, similar to how Facebook lets Instagram run independently.

Zenly’s app lets users see where their friends currently are on a map using constant GPS in the background. People can then message these friends in the app to make plans to hang out.

The Paris-based startup’s app has 4 million downloads according to Sensor Tower, with 28% from France but also sizeable numbers in Asia including 12% in South Korea and 8% in Japan. The app is mostly used by teens trying to keep up with their friends around town, at school, or at concerts and other events. Zenly had raised $35.1 million, including a $22.5 million Series B in September 2016 led by prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark.

Zenly’s social map on the left looks extremely similar to Snapchat’s new Snap Map on the right… because Snap acquired Zenly

This morning, Snapchat launched its Snap Map location-sharing and location-based content discovery feature. It works slightly differently, only pulling your location when you open the app, but otherwise looks so similar to Zenly that we suspected Snapchat had copied it. Sources told us Snap expressed acquisition interest, but Zenly initially rejected them.

After more digging, we’ve learned from sources close to the deal that Snapchat did in fact acquire Zenly. A Zenly terms of service change on May 25th may be related to the deal. A Snapchat employee has also been spotted retweeting people congratulating Zenly’s founders.

Rather than shutting down Zenly and folding it into Snapchat, Snap Inc. will allow Zenly to run somewhat autonomously. We asked Snap, but it declined to comment, and Zenly hasn’t returned our inquiries. Instead, here’s TechCrunch’s interview with Zenly CEO Antoine Martin at Disrupt London last year.

Subscribe to our Channel