Snapchat Buys Emoji Maker Bitstrips

To keep young users’ attention, Snapchat is buying emoji maker Bitstrips. The social giant is paying around $100 million for the Toronto-based company, sources tell Fortune.

Founded in 2012, Bitstrips allows users to create cartoon versions of themselves known as bitmojis. To date, the startup has raised $8 million from Horizon Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among other investors.

Of course, Snapchat isn’t the only social leader looking for startups to spice up its existing offerings.

Earlier this month, Facebook bought Masquerade or an undisclosed sum. Like Snapchat, Masquerade is a simple mobile app that allows for playful augmentations to selfies and video content. Some of its more popular tricks include mashing selfies with those of various celebrities, and face swapping -- which is when one face is swapped for another.

Facebook has been trying to get a piece of Snapchat’s action for some time. Three years ago, it even tried (and failed) to buy the startup for $3 billion. The simple fact is that Facebook is maturing, its users are posting less and less -- and as it turns out, people just love sharing silly selfies with friends. 

They love it so much, in fact, that Snapchat has ballooned in value to $16 billion, and is reportedly targeting between $300 million and $350 million in revenue in 2016 -- six to seven times the $50 million in revenue it projected last year.

Yet there are some signs that Snapchat is struggling with mass-marketing adoption.

During the Oscars, for example, Snapchat let everyone view a stream of live snaps from its Web site. The social powerhouse had never before broadcast a Live Story beyond the borders of its mobile app. Clearly a bid for more visibility, the move threatened to diminish Snapchat’s cool factor among young users.


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