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Posts Tagged ‘GroupMe’

GroupMe in $30M Bid War

New York-based group texting startup GroupMe is caught in the middle of an East Coast vs. West Coast venture capital brawl, pushing it’s valuation north of $30 million, according to a report.

Bidding from the West Coast included big names Sequoia, Andresseen Horowitz, and Khosla Ventures, while East Coast bidders included General Catalyst, Flybridge, and Union Square Ventures, according to the Silicon Alley Insider.

GroupMe lets users create mobile groups of users that can be contacted with a single phone number. Groups can be created around friends and family members, or around shared interests and events. The company demoed its service back in October at the New York Tech Meetup alongside bootstrapped competitor Fast Society with entertaining results.

An unnamed source quoted by SAI described GroupMe’s growth as “nuts – thousands of percent.”

Union Square Ventures pulled out of the bidding part way through over concerns that GroupMe’s service could overlap with another portfolio company, Twitter.

The microblogging giant actually considered purchasing GroupMe outright, but backed off as the price rose. Instead, Twitter decided to build its own version of the service internally.

According to reports, the California-based Khosla Ventures is prepared to up the ante yet again by valuing GroupMe at $33 million. Just a year ago, GroupMe received $700,000 in its first round of funding.

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When Startups Collide

What to you get when you take two startup teams working on the same type of mobile messaging service, and put them on stage in front of about 1,000 techno geeks? You get to see each team’s personality come through. That’s what happened at the New York Tech Meetup’s October event on Tuesday.

GroupMe, a service which lets users create group phone numbers for texting and conference calling, was immediately followed by startup group Onebluebrick, whose Fast Society service does pretty much the same thing. The only apparent differentiating factor was that Fast Society’s groups were designed to be temporary.

Meetup organizer Nate Westheimer introduced the pair with some inspirational comments ” People really shouldn’t worry about competition,” he said. “When it comes down to it, the success or failure of your startup is about how you execute your own plan.”

Thanks Nate, that’s the kind of positive talk we like. It can be easy to fall into the trap of worrying about competition instead of worrying about your own startup. Anyway, now that the positivity is over with, bring on the competitors!

GroupMe’s demo was pretty straightforward. Co-founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci showed how to create a group number, send messages, and start a conference call. All very slick, very controlled. Lots of applause at the appropriate moments. Then the Fast Society team took the stage, and the one-upmanship began.

Onebluebrick co-founder Matthew Rosenberg threw formality out the window, and started the Fast Society demo by gathering volunteers to perform a live test of the service.

He then took a jab at GroupMe when showed off Fast Society’s user interface. “This is not just hacked together, this is beautiful. We spend time working on this,” he said, referring to the fact that GroupMe

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