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Skype Aims to Buy GroupMe

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Not yet a part of Microsoft's burgeoning social networking empire, real-time video conferencing and voice communications firm Skype is already making plans for growth, the company announced Monday: it plans to acquire mobile group messaging service GroupMe.

Skype aims to combine GroupMe's sophisticated text-based group communications capabilities with features that enable users to stay in touch and make plans with each other using technologies from mobile video provider Qik, which Skype is also in the process of acquiring.

"The GroupMe team has created an incredibly sticky group messaging experience that works across mobile devices and platforms, making this a perfect addition to the voice, video and text products in the Skype family," Tony Bates, Skype's CEO, said in a statement.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced its plans to buy out Skype for $8.5 billion in mid-June, the largest acquisition ever for the software titan.

In late June, Microsoft got the go ahead from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to complete the Skype purchase. However, the companies are still awaiting clearance from regulators for the European Union and several other international bodies.

Year-old GroupMe is headquartered in New York. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

"Skype and GroupMe have a shared vision of creating applications and experiences that are the daily communications choice for a billion people," Bates added. "We will continue to seek the top talent and technology to make that vision a reality."

Meanwhile, Skype announced its acquisition of Qik mobile video software and services firm in early January.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on Skype's acquisition of GroupMe.

However, the software giant's executives and industry pundits have repeatedly waxed positively about a wide range of synergies enabled by the combination of Skype with existing Microsoft products and services, from Lync Server video conferencing, to integration with Windows Phone, and even Xbox 360 gaming, once the deal is closed.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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