Snap Is Buying Mapping Startup Zenly for $200 Million

Snap Inc. acquired Zenly, a French startup that makes a social map so people can see where their friends are hanging out, for $200 million in cash plus additional stock awards, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Los Angeles-based Snap bought Zenly in late May, according to the person, and has already turned the product into a feature on its main Snapchat application that lets users see friends’ photo and video posts by location. The tool uses Bitmoji -- animated cartoon avatars users can personalize to depict themselves -- as the markers on the map. 

Zenly and Bitmoji, which Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel added through another acquisition last year, show that Snap is willing to purchase tools to broaden the application’s appeal. The company has said that product updates will be the main drivers of user growth, which slowed in the first quarter, sparking concern about the company’s trajectory just months after its initial public offering.

The company has been moving more deeply into location-based tools, using deals to build out its portfolio. It acquired Placed earlier this month to help it track whether ads are driving people to physical stores. 

Snap declined to comment. The purchase of Zenly was reported earlier Wednesday by Techcrunch.

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