Uber has acquihired Swipe Labs, the social product studio run by Marwan Roushdy. A selection of engineers from the dozen-person startup will join Uber. To work on the driver experience within the driver earnings team.
Over the past four years it had raised $8.2 million. Built four apps for sharing photos, videos and group texts. But while the terms of the acquihire weren’t disclosed. The deal’s valuation is almost surely much less than the $56 million valuation. Swipe Labs scored with a $5.6 million late-2014 Series A from First Round, Lowercase, Sherpa and now-disgraced Binary Capital.
It grew to more than a million users in the first few weeks, attracting the $5.6 million round and lofty valuation. Yet as Snapchat continued to explode in popularity, Swipe petered out, and Hardy eventually left the company.
Swipe kept swinging. It built Channel, which was sort of a mix of Snapchat Stories and YouTube. Its final pivot, Chitchat, was a spontaneous group chat app that worked like a Houseparty for texting. In the end, though, Swipe Labs’ engineering team would prove more valuable than its products.
Uber is in a tough position after CEO Travis Kalanick resigned amidst sexual discrimination scandals, a lawsuit from Google and extensive culture problems.
These issues might be making it a bit harder for Uber to hire right now in the competitive Silicon Valley job market. Acquihiring companies like it’s doing here with Swipe Labs lets it roll up a bunch of good talent at once.
Uber’s driver monetization experience is undergoing a significant shift as the company rolls out tipping. The Swipe Labs team could make it easier for drivers to make more money, understand what they’re earning and get the payouts they need to support themselves and their families.
Hopefully Uber won’t try to launch its own Snapchat clone. But it could use a human touch to keep drivers loyal in these trying times.