Snapchat Bought A Startup To Power Its New Video Chat Feature

Evan spiegel snapchatAP/Jae C. HongSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

Snapchat has just confirmed its first acquisition, a big step for the Santa Monica, California-based startup.

As part of its update yesterday, the company rolled out two major new features in its app: instant messaging and video calling.

The video-calling feature is particularly impressive. It’s meant to enable quick conversations with someone who’s already engaging with you, with the expectation that a call might be as short as the video message you would have sent using older versions of the app.

Turning video chat into something that doesn’t feel like an obligation means it has to be instant — not something tedious that you have to plan ahead for, like a Skype or Google Hangouts call.

It seems that Snapchat had to bring in outside talent to reach that point. The Verge reports that the company acquired real-time communications startup AddLive for an undisclosed sum at some point in the last few months, once its had decided that video chat would be the app’s next big feature.

AddLive previously enabled a number of companies to build video chat and screen-sharing functions into their mobile and desktop apps. Rather than simply paying to take advantage of the company’s infrastructure and support for iOS and Android, Snapchat’s leadership decided it was worth pulling from its huge cash pile to buy the company outright.

While Snapchat is arguably already a “big” company — it’s raised roughly $US120 million, employs more than 70 people, and facilitates over 700 million photo messages each day — this acquisition is the first sign of the company gearing up to become a real force in the industry since turning down acquisition offers worth billions of dollars from the likes of Facebook and Google five months ago.

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