Google has bought Meebo, an online chat client that handles multiple chat accounts. Meebo technology may be integrated into the Google Plus social network, and also gives Google a foot in the door to competitor Facebook‘s chat service, which Meebo supports.
Meebo confirmed the acquisition, which had been rumored last month, in a short note Monday on its official blog. The terms of the purchase have not been made public, though the price tag was reportedly in the neighborhood of $100 million.
“For more than seven years we’ve been helping publishers find deeper relationships with their users and to make their sites more social and engaging,” they wrote. “Together with Google, we’re super jazzed to roll up our sleeves and get cracking on even bigger and better ways to help users and website owners alike.”
Meebo launched in 2005, and rode the success of established chat protocols by giving users a one-stop login for their clients. The company has since launched a now-canceled chatroom service, a social commenting platform and a variety of apps. A Google spokesperson told PC Magazine there are definite plans to use the purchase to bolster Google Plus.
“With the Meebo team’s expertise in social publisher tools, we believe they will be a great fit with the Google+ team,” the company said.
It’s not clear whether Google intends to leave the existing Meebo site be for the time being while integrating the company’s technology elsewhere, though that is a strategy Google has used in the past to avoid user backlash. As long as the site continues to function normally, it will put Google in the awkward position of facilitating the conversations of some number of Facebook chat users – and, at least theoretically, gaining access to the content of those messages.
The acquisition comes at a sensitive time for instant messaging, which has largely migrated away from classic platform’s like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger – due in part to the success of Skype, Microsoft’s popular video and text chat service that does not interface with Meebo, and the built-in chat service developed by Google’s social competitor Facebook.
The purchase isn’t Google’s only high profile acquisition this year. Last month, the company finalized a deal to acquire consumer electronics manufacturer Motorola, in a bid to “supercharge” the company’s mobile operating system Android by manufacturing handsets directly.