Snapchat maker Snap acquired Venice, Los Angeles-based drone manufacturer Ctrl Me Robotics, industry sources said on Saturday. The value of the transaction is believed to be under $1 million, while the deal itself is reportedly an acquihire, i.e. talent acquisition, meaning Snap will likely discontinue all of Ctrl Me Robotics existing products and absorb the company. The drone maker's founder Simon Saito Nielsen is said to be joining Snap, presumably along with some other employees of the startup. Due to the relatively small value of the transaction, Snap's acquisition of the Californian firm was likely an all-cash deal.
Ctrl Me Robotics was founded in 2013 as a drone startup aimed at serving movie studios, with one of the company's side projects involving a smartphone gimbal that attaches to a drone and enables sending aerial snaps. The company went through a small round of seed funding in 2014 but has never launched a commercial product and it's currently unclear how far did it manage to go with developing one. The acquisition itself is a minor one for Snap and isn't surprising in light of the fact that the company previously considered purchasing a drone maker, having met with now-bankrupt Lily Robotics last year. In the run-up to Snap's initial public offering (IPO), the California-based social media giant rebranded itself as "a camera company," adding that it's looking to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering a unique combination of products and services centered around Snapchat. While its initial market performance has been somewhat disappointing, Snap is adamant to continue pursuing its hardware-related ambitions that have so far only manifested itself in the form of Spectacles, a pair of connected glasses that can be used for recording snaps.
According to previous reports, Snap conducted internal research on drones in the past, and its supposed acquisition of Ctrl Me Robotics indicates that the company is still considering developing unmanned aircraft in the future, with some industry watchers speculating that a potential Snapchat-enabled drone may be offered to advertisers as a tool for creating unique, captivating content suitable for the growing social platform. As Snap is now a publicly traded company, the firm's next financial statement will have to disclose its acquisition of Ctrl Me Robotics in some form, provided that the transaction took place.