Snapchat buys augmented reality start-up for US$40 million: Report

Snapchat buys augmented reality start-up for US$40 million: Report
Snapchat
PHOTO: Reuters

Snap Inc - the owner of Snapchat - has quietly acquired Israeli augmented reality (AR) start-up Cimagine Media for a reported US$30 (S$43.5 million) to US$40 million (S$57.9 million), according to a media report.

Cimagine Media makes software that allows businesses or consumers to visualize what an item might look like in their environment.

For example, the start-up works with Shop Direct to allow customers to see what furniture would look like in their home via a tablet.

This so-called augmented reality use is of interest to Snap Inc, considering Snapchat uses this technology in their lenses to let users turn their faces into animals for example.

Israeli publication Calcalist originally reported the news this week and said Snap Inc will use the deal to create a development centre in Israel.

Snapchat declined to comment when contacted by CNBC, while Cimagine Media has not yet responded.

Cimagine Media has raised an undisclosed amount of money from venture capital firms including iVentures Asia and PLUS Ventures.

The four co-founders Yoni Nevo, Ozi Egri, Nir Daube and Amiram Avraham, are all experts in computer vision and image processing, so the acquisition will give Snap Inc some top talent.

Snapchat is facing increasing competition from Facebook as the social media giant continues to roll out new features on Instagram Stories - its Snapchat competitor.

Snap Inc is known for being secretive and very rarely discloses acquisitions but has made a handful this year.

Earlier this year, Snap bought Bitstrips, a start-up that makes personalized emojis known as bitmojis, as well as an advertising technology called Flite.

The acquisition also comes as Snap looks towards a reported initial public offering (IPO) next year that could value the company at between US$20 billion and US$25 billion, according to numerous media reports.

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