Twitter acquires group chat app Sphere to build on Communities offering

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The London-based start-up’s 20 staff will join Twitter to work on developing the social media platform’s communications features.

Twitter has acquired UK-based group chat app Sphere as it looks to diversify its communications offerings.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the deal to TechCrunch, but financial terms were not revealed.

The social media giant recently piloted Twitter Communities, a feature that allows users with similar interests to connect with each other. It is part of ongoing efforts to cultivate new spaces where users can interact.

Earlier this year, it rolled out audio feature Spaces, after reportedly attempting to acquire audio platform Clubhouse. It has also continued to experiment with new functions to curb online harassment and promote online safety.

The team at Sphere published a blog post detailing what users of both platforms can expect from the deal, which will see Sphere fully integrated with Twitter.

Sphere said it had been “watching and admiring Twitter’s growing investment in community-building with the release of Communities, Spaces and features that promote safety”.

“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,” it added.

Sphere said it would be “winding down” its standalone product next month. Its 20 staff will join Twitter’s headcount to “continue onwards within the Communities, direct messages and creators initiatives at Twitter”.

The London-based start-up was founded by Nick D’Aloisio and Tomas Halgas. The former is a seasoned tech entrepreneur, having sold his news app Summly to Yahoo for $30m at the tender age of 17.

“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 blog post continued.

“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.”

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