A new rumor has surfaced stating that Snapchat is preparing to spend an amount that is in excess of $100 million ($110 million according to the report) to acquire Vurb, a smartphone search engine. Although the exact amount has not been detailed, the total amount is said to be a combination of both stock (75%) and cash (25%). Vurb has been around for five years and their smartphone search engine application is designed for discovering trending topics, searching and executing chores such as making reservations at restaurants and calling an Uber or Lyft ride without moving between different applications. Vurb's presentation of search results is interesting because rather than giving the user a list of links, Vurb shows them in a similar manner to a desk of summarized cards. Customers can create groups of these cards and save them for later, or better yet, they may be shared with friends. A good use for the Vurb service is when planning a night out: you can include various cards showing a summary of say a restaurant, a movie theater, a few bars and perhaps even how to get there and back. This bundle of cards may be shared around your friends.
However, whilst technically clever, Vurb's application and service has not been all that successful and presumably Snapchat believe that with their support, the search engine can do much better. Precisely how Snapchat may utilize Vurb's technology remains to be seen, although given the "night out" example above it's easy to see how Snapchat could absorb Vurb's technology and incorporate it into the Snapchat application. Vurb's ability to identify trending topics could also be put to good use for customers wanting to find out what the happening events are around their location. However, in the detail there is something interesting: whilst Snapchat may be spending $110 million on the business, the social service is spending nearly the same on team retention payouts. In other words, Snapchat values the team behind the Vurb service almost as much as Vurb itself. It seems that Snapchat wants this technology for its own purposes just as it wants to buy the existing Vurb business.
Vurb will not be Snapchat's first bolt-on business that has almost immediately benefited the end user. Earlier in the year, Snapchat bought Bitmoji for, again, around $100 million. Snapchat has also already integrated Bitmoji's personalized stickers into the application. Furthermore, Snapchat's lenses, introduced in 2015, were the result of buying Looksery for $150 million. If Snapchat are true to form, once the acquisition goes through Vurb's technology is likely to be quickly integrated into the service.