Groupon has acquired the pre-launch social communication start-up Campfire Labs, the companies confirmed today. Word of the deal had first been reported on TechCrunch.
Campfire CEO and co-founder Naveen Koorakula said his company’s full team — which I believe is seven people — would be joining Groupon to head up its social efforts. He did not disclose a price.
Groupon had been actively trying to buy other social start-ups such as Gowalla, sources had said in recent weeks. That particular deal went to Facebook. Another would-be Groupon acquisition target, Clever Sense, went to Google instead.
I’d met with Koorakula and his co-founder Sakina Arsiwala earlier this year, and they explained their still-in-progress ideas for a social messaging and collaboration platform that adapted to understand which people were relevant to a group of three to 15 people. They called it a “few-to-few” social network.
Campfire, which had named its early product Slice, was kind of like a dynamic version of Beluga — the group messaging start-up Facebook acquired in March — but Campfire was Web-based, with chat, calendar and media-sharing tools.
The company was still a ways away from launching, and working on testing the product on university campuses like Kenyon College first.
Both the Campfire and Slice sites are currently offline.
Koorakula and Arsiwala, who are a husband-and-wife team, have impressive backgrounds. Koorakula worked on search at Inktomi, Yahoo and Powerset, while Arsiwala helped internationalize YouTube and also did stints at Google proper, Yahoo and Altavista. Campfire Labs investors included SV Angel and Felicis Ventures.
Groupon spokesperson Julie Mossler said, “Campfire Labs was recently acquired to lead the social arm of Groupon. They’re great product technologists who have developed really cool stuff and technology. The Campfire team have already [proven] to be great assets at Groupon and we’ve got a few exciting projects in the works for early 2012.”