Snapchat acquires social map app Zenly to allow users to track their friends

Snapchat has acquired Zenly, a French startup that makes a social map so people can see where their friends are hanging out, for $200m in cash plus additional stock awards. Zenly’s app lets users see where their friends currently are on a map using constant GPS in the background. People can then message these friends in the app to make plans to hang out.

Snap Inc. will however allow Zenly to run somewhat autonomously.

Zenly has said that its 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 according to Tech Crunch. 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.

With both Snap Map and Zenly, Snap Inc. is hedging its bets in the social content space. Because its Snapchat Stories feature is being aggressively copied by Instagram and Facebook’s other apps, Snapchat is wise to expand into the social utility space of helping people meet up offline. Now Snap could own two different apps on people’s home screens.

Making plans with friends involves a high degree of intent — about what people want to eat or do — there are plenty of advertising and partnership opportunities down the line. You could imagine restaurants, movie studios and more hoping to hit Zenly or Snap Map users with ads as they plan to go out with friends.

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