Path acquires Cambridge-based TalkTo, will launch Path Talk today

Path Talk

TalkTo, an app that lets users ask questions to stores and restaurants by text message, has been acquired by San Francisco-based social media company Path. (No particulars of the deal were disclosed; however the deal is rumored to be a combination of cash and stock.)

Based in Cambridge, TalkTo was founded in 2010 by Stuart Levinson (who previously founded Venetica, which was acquired by IBM) and Riley Crane of the MIT Media Lab as a way for people to ask local retail stores about product availability and prices or to make restaurant reservations, all with only a quick text.

The company raised $3 million from Matrix Partners in 2012, an investment that was led by general partner Antonio Rodriguez.

In addition to the acquisition of TalkTo, Path is launching a new messaging platform called Path Talk, which will integrate TalkTo’s technology later this summer.

Path Talk is an app that brings together a number of currently trending features within one mobile messaging tool. Highlights include:


-Messages are automatically erased from Path’s servers 24 hours after they are sent; a different take on the Snapchat disappearing message phenomenon.

-Path Talk can also automatically notify user’s friends when they are in transit to a location, in the same neighborhood, or even low on battery.

-The new app also lets users send movies, music, books, maps, and high quality pictures and videos to friends.

-Additionally, Path Talk can send message responses to friends quickly and easily with just a swipe and allows to send and receive voice messages to individuals or to groups.

In the statement announcing Path Talk, the company said that soon — Levinson and Morin say later this summer — the app will also be able to message restaurants, stores, and more, allowing Path Talk users to make reservations, get specific product prices, and check the availability of goods in-store “all through text messaging.” In essence, Path Talk will slowly integrate TalkTo into its messaging services.

Levinson said that TalkTo opened up its API at the beginning of 2014 and immediately started having conversations with interested parties about partnerships. TalkTo piqued the interest of Path co-founder and chief executive Dave Morin, who is well-known for his work with Facebook. Since this year’s South by Southwest, Path has been adding more messaging features to its app, which has fueled growth for the company (Levinson said that Path previously had 1.5 million daily active users, which has grown to 4 million daily users since the launch of the messaging features.)

Morin and Levinson realized that their visions for messaging were well-aligned and Path made the move to acquire TalkTo as it is also launching a stand-alone messaging product.

As Morin explained, “On Path, people message with their friends and family every day, but we wanted to give our users the opportunity to communicate with places, too.”

“We started speaking with TalkTo – the pioneer in place messaging – and realized the opportunity for both companies to merge and enhance this idea together.  TalkTo will be incorporated into Path Talk later this summer and we can’t wait for people to experience it.”

TalkTo's Stuart Levinson

TalkTo’s Stuart Levinson

Levinson will remain in Cambridge and continue to work on TalkTo’s technology for Path, while Crane will be heading to San Francisco to work for the company at its San Francisco headquarters.

Levinson sent out a blog post to TalkTo users today about the deal. Current users will continue to have access to the app, while new users will be diverted to Path Talk.

Talking this morning after a red-eye flight from the West Coast, Levinson said that everyone at TalkTo is really excited about the deal and added: “It’s something that we really wouldn’t have expected at the beginning of the year.”

“We are going to be bringing the first messaging platform that allows you to communicate with your friends and family, but also allows you to communicate with the places around you.”

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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