Young Guns Reloaded: GroupMe Goes to the Big Leagues

Oh what a difference a year can make.

In November 2010, 20-somethings Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci had a three-month-old group-texting startup with five employees. Less than a year later, they have been bought by Skype for a reported $85 million. It’s undoubtedly been a whirlwind, and their story of triumph is at the heart of New York City’s growing tech scene.

“GroupMe wouldn’t be GroupMe if it weren’t for New York City,” said 23-year-old Hecht.  “This is a very New York City-centric tool.”

The company, which allows users to send text messages to different groups in real time, is one of a number of startups in the group messaging sphere. It’s also one of the first—and the company reportedly helps send around a 100 million messages per month.

Keri D’Andrea said it worked perfectly for figuring out her daughter’s school bus problems.

“The timing wasn’t always the same,” she said. “And we had people standing out at the bus stop.”

That is until D’Andrea, along with the other parents with kids on the bus, began using GroupMe's service. “Once we setup GroupMe, it was so much more convenient because we were able to text each other in real time, all at once,” she said.

It seems like Skype CEO Tony Bates sees its value, too. In a statement announcing the deal in August, Bates said, “"The GroupMe team has created an incredibly sticky group messaging experience that works across mobile devices and platforms, making this a perfect addition to the voice, video and text products in the Skype family."

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