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Origami Labs Acquires FamilyLeaf, A Competing Private Social Network For Families

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Origami, the Y Combinator-backed social network for families which just launched to the public this month, has acquired competing service FamilyLeaf, another YC company. Financial terms of the deal are not being revealed, and for at least the next couple of months, FamilyLeaf is not shutting down. However, it will no longer be supported.

According to Origami founder Vibhu Norby, teams from both companies worked together to create an import functionality that will allow FamilyLeaf users to easily migrate their content over to Origami. They’re also being offered a familyleaf.com subdomain as another encouragement to switch services. (Note to other startups holding onto precious family memories and photos: transitioning plans, not abandonment, is exactly how it should be done).

Origami, which itself grew out of the ashes of a private mobile social networking service called Everyme, offers families a web and mobile platform to share photos and videos and post text-based entries, as well as make announcements and organize photos into albums. It’s a simple networking product with a clean design that ultimately aims to attract those who would have otherwise turned to places like Blogger or WordPress to start their own family blog.

FamilyLeaf, meanwhile, was similarly focused. It, too, offered a way for family members to share photos and messages with others, but it was also more deeply integrated with Facebook, allowing users to leverage their Facebook social graph to help them find family connections who could then be added to the service. There was also an SMS messaging service included in FamilyLeaf, but the company never followed through with native mobile apps like Origami now has.

familyleaf

Norby explains that the acquisition was made for a couple of reasons. “The family sharing space is essentially composed of a range of legacy ‘Web 2.0′ sites, and a huge array of mobile-only solutions,” he says. “FamilyLeaf was interesting to us because they were the only major new player in this market that took a modern and beautiful approach to connecting families like we do. When I first met the founders, their vision and their iterative learning process with FamilyLeaf blew me away.”

He says that when they made the offer to buy FamilyLeaf earlier this year, it was contingent on the FamilyLeaf team teaching them everything they had learned over the course of running the startup, which was launched early last year. Since March, the two teams have been collaborating on the transition, and Origami has taken much of the feedback from FamilyLeaf and applied it to their new product. Norby says the decision to keep the deal quiet until now has to do with the fact that they wanted to make sure they first had Origami and the importing feature ready before informing users of the acquisition.

FamilyLeaf’s full-time employees and co-founders Wesley Zhao, Ajay Mehta, Henry Liu and Brandon Paton have since moved onto other companies and other projects. Paton had exited prior to the acquisition. Mehta now works at Crowdtilt, as does FamilyLeaf’s community manager Mary Yap. Liu now works with YC-backed Verbling. Zhao has his own projects in the works, too.

“I’m personally a huge fan of the product and community Origami is building and think FamilyLeaf will fit in perfectly with them,” says Mehta, “but I didn’t want to join full-time and instead just wanted to help them out with the transition as an advisor.”

Norby says Mehta consulted for a couple of weeks, then Zhao continued on for a couple of months during the transition. None of the employees were offered full-time positions with Origami, however.

The startup had a small amount of seed funding from YC, Start Fund ($167K), and an undisclosed amount from 500 Startups and others. There were around 7,500 families registered on the service in over 150 countries, 35 percent of which were active. In terms of the financials, we hear that FamilyLeaf was able to return part of the cash they raised from investors.