Groupon Acquires Social Recommendation App

It’s a big day for M&A. The latest of today’s deal announcements is the news that Groupon has acquired, the mobile app for discovering and planning new places to go with friends. Ditto announced its sale in an entry on its company blog. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Ditto’s service will eventually be shut down as part of the integration into Groupon, the company said:

“We can’t reveal what we’ll be working on at Groupon but we are excited to give it 100% – to enable this, we’ll be winding down Ditto. On April 30th we’ll switch off the service and remove the app from Apple’s and Nokia’s stores. We think you’ll love what we and Groupon dream up next.”

The winding down of Ditto also indicates that for Groupon, this may have been mostly about bringing on talented employees through an “acqui-hire.” Hiring good engineers and designers is tough these days, and Groupon has been on a shopping spree of sorts when it comes to mobile and location apps, so this looks like a smart deal all-around.

We’ve reached out for more detail on the size of Ditto’s team, and whether they’ll be relocating from San Francisco to Chicago; this post will be updated with any feedback we receive.

Ditto was founded by Jyri Engestrom, the Finnish tech entrepreneur who was previously best known as the co-founder of Jaiku, the microblogging site that was Europe’s early answer to Twitter and was acquired by Google in 2007. Engestrom left the big G in 2009 to re-enter the entrepreneurial space, and the official launch of Ditto followed in March 2011. TechCrunch alum MG Siegler explained the app like this:

“Ditto is an iPhone app in the location space that goes beyond the check-in. Sure, that’s one aspect of it, but if Ditto works as intended, it’s hopefully only the end result. ‘It is about sharing your intent to do something instead of what you’ve already done,’ is how founder Jyri Engestrom puts it.”

In addition to letting users plan places to go and things to do, would also let people canvass their friends for tips — signaling that they want to eat, but don’t know where, for instance. That’s when the social recommendation aspect of the app would kick in. Overall, Ditto was a nice twist on the classic location check-in app, and from a UI perspective it was quite well-designed. But the fact that Ditto is going to be sunsetted right away post-deal may indicate that its traction was not all that it might have hoped. It’ll be interesting to see what the team cooks up in the months ahead, now that it is a part of Groupon.