Snap Map, the newest feature on Snapchat, is based on the disappearing message company’s latest acquisition, Zenly, a social mapping startup. In a deal which closed late last month, Snapchat acquired Zenly in a cash and stock deal for amounts ranging between $250 million and $350 million.
Snapchat intends to allow Zenly to operate independently. The acquisition is currently the biggest ever for the disappearing message firm. Previously, its largest acquisition was Placed, an ad tracking firm, which was purchased for approximately $200 million.
The Zenly app allows users to find out on a map where their friends are currently located via a constant GPS that runs in the background. These friends can then be messaged in order to make plans for meeting or hanging out. Most users of the app are teenagers. The goal of the app is to assist users in engaging more with their friends rather than just standing by and not getting involved in social activities.
On the Zenly app the location of friends is shown in real time by Actionmojis which are created by the app depending on the current action of the user. If the user is driving, for instance, the Actionmoji will depict the user in the car. The Actionmojis get updated in real time and in instances where a user has not used the app for a couple of hours, their location will cease being shown on the map.
To use Snap Map users of Snapchat must opt in. Users also have the option of only allowing their location to be shared with particular friends and not all friends. The feature can also be disabled on a temporary basis by switching on ‘Ghost Mode’.
When the Snap Map feature is on, users are able to search posts that are featured or even posts focusing on nearby areas and this will display clusters of posts originating from an event. This essentially creates a Snapchat usage heat map.
As per statistics provided by Sensor Tower, the Zenly app has been download 4 million times. 28% of the downloads were in France while the percentage of downloads in South Korea was 12%. Japan’s share of the downloads was 8%.
Before the acquisition Zenly had managed to raise approximately $35.1 million, with $22.5 million having been raised in a Series B round held last year in September. This was led by Benchmark, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley.