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Israeli video chatting pioneer Rounds just got bought by Kik

January 27, 2017 | Telepresence Options

Rounds_Dany_Fishel_and_Ilan_Leibovich.PNG

Story and images by Geektime

Kik is also using the acquisition of Rounds, which allows up to 12 people to video chat on mobile at once, to open an R&D center in Israel

Before there were those silly filters on Snapchat, there was another startup with doodles and fun, live video graphics. Tel Aviv-based Rounds was one of the first group video chatting applications for mobile, and now, it has reaped the rewards of being an initial innovator in this field. Kik, a larger Canadian chatting company, announced on Thursday that it acquired Rounds for an undisclosed sum.

While neither Rounds nor Kik disclosed a price for the acquisition to Geektime, other news outlets estimate that it is somewhere between $60-$80 million. Given how much funding Rounds had previously raised, about $24 million since Dany Fishel and Ilan Leibovich launched the startup in 2007, this appears to be a moderately priced buyout. Comparing it to other Israeli startups that have been purchased for a similar amount of money in recent years, this isn't as successful as PayPal's buyout of CyActive, which had only raised $2 million and been in existence for two years, nor is it quite as disappointing as Prosper's purchase of BillGuard for $50 million, considering that BillGuard was in a more lucrative sector. Even though Rounds' technology was forward looking and it reportedly has 40 million users, realistically it is lucky that it was able to be acquired given the fast pace and enormous user base of other video conferencing applications, including Facebook Messenger.

In addition to the acquisition, Kik -- which has raised about $120 million to date, including a $50 million round led by Tencent valuing the company at $1 billion in 2015 -- is also opening an R&D center in Israel, its first outside of Canada. Rounds' 35 employees will now be part of Kik's Israeli R&D center.

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