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Snap Bought Social Map Startup Zenly for Its Latest Feature

Variety logo Variety 6/22/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Snapchat corporate parent Snap Inc. has quietly acquired French social mapping startup Zenly, according to multiple media reports. Snap didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Techcrunch was first to report the acquisition Wednesday afternoon, pegging the acquisition price at $250 to $300 million. Bloomberg confirmed the acquisition later Wednesday, reporting that Zenly was acquired for $200 in cash plus additional stock awards.

Zenly is powering one of Snapchat’s newest features: Snap Map allows users to share their location with others, and find their friends on a map. Users can also opt to not share their location, and instead browse the map in what the company calls “ghost mode.”

The new feature quickly resulted in comparisons to Zenly when it was launched by Snapchat Wednesday. Zenly allows its users to share their real-time location with each other and chat directly via the app.

Users are also able to see how much battery their friends have left, and how many people looked at their location at any given time. And just like Snapchat’s version, Zenly also has a ghost mode for users who don’t want to be tracked.

Adding a map and location sharing to its app could be an important differentiator for Snapchat as it aims to defend itself against growing competition from Facebook’s Instagram. Earlier this week, Instagram announced that its Stories feature, which it copied from Snapchat, now has 250 million daily active users.

Investors apparently agreed that Zenly was a smart acquisition, and sent up Snap’s stock 2.4% Thursday morning.

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