Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Messaging App GroupMe Gets Into Commerce (No, Really!)

GroupMe, the group messaging app now owned by Skype — which is now owned by Microsoft — is not exactly becoming tightly integrated into its nesting corporate parents’ existing body of communications products and systems. (Because aren’t you bored just thinking about it?)

Instead, the team’s next product is a set of curated real-world social experiences that it will suggest to groups of friends and help them coordinate. And if all goes well, this is to be GroupMe’s business model.

GroupMe co-founders Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, who still run the company, tell me that this group commerce idea is actually not a wacky diversion, but fully in keeping with their original vision for GroupMe — which was around helping groups of people coordinate themselves and turn their online interactions into offline events.

(GroupMe famously came out of a TechCrunch hackathon in 2010, so it’s kind of amazing that there’s any “original vision” left to execute on.)

With the new “Experiences by GroupMe,” group activities can be suggested in the form of an offer, which may require a certain number of participants to “unlock” (see the screenshot above). Users can automatically split the bill, and GroupMe takes a percentage of sales as its payment.

The Experiences product is at first only available to certain existing GroupMe users in New York City, where the company has assigned its marketing and business development staff to find interesting stuff for people to do together, including fancy meals and VIP tickets to concerts. Later on, GroupMe may use a self-service platform and partnerships to expand elsewhere, said Martocci and Hecht.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald