Twitter acquires group chat app Sphere

Twitter has acquired London-based Sphere, which operates an eponymous groups chat app, the latest in a series of recent moves from the social network as it looks to aggressively broaden and improve its product offerings.

Sphere — founded by Tomas Halgas and Nick D’Aloisio, who previously founded news summary app Summly, which he famously sold to Yahoo at the age of 17 for a reported $30 million — did not disclose the financial details of the deal. The startup had reportedly raised at least $30 million — including $11.8 million in the first two rounds that TechCrunch first reported.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the Sphere acquisition news to TechCrunch.

“Much like others, we’ve been watching and admiring Twitter’s growing investment in community-building with the release of Communities, Spaces, and features that promote safety,” Sphere said in a blog post.

“When we met the team, we were even more impressed by how seriously they are pursuing interest-based community and how much they believe in its potential impact.”

Sphere said as part of the move, which will see its headcount of about 20 join Twitter, the startup will be winding down the standalone app next month. The startup didn’t disclose the number of users or customers it had amassed.

“It’s been a long and exciting journey to this point. Like many startups, Sphere started with a very different mission — to help anyone find and share knowledge instantly through the creation of a ‘global brain.’ We originally built a marketplace of paid experts from all around the world, connecting them through group chat,” the startup said in the blog post.

“What we realised is that some of the most helpful and knowledgeable conversations came from groups where members felt a strong sense of belonging to one another. In other words, at the heart of our challenge was helping every single person find their community. The opportunity is massive.”

The move comes as Twitter has visibly become more aggressive to expand its product offerings in recent quarters. The firm, which attempted to acquire Clubhouse, introduced a similar feature this year and more recently has taken several steps to curb unruly discourse on its platform.

Hopefully with Sphere under its umbrella, the social giant will do something about the state of personal and group messages on its platform.