Twitter has purchased Sphere, a group chat app created in 2016 that promises to make conversations more participatory and organized. The acquisition is part of Twitter’s ongoing push to strengthen its Communities. Sphere’s website advertises the app as a place that “transforms groups into thriving communities,” but the transaction’s financial terms were not disclosed.
Tomas Halgas and Nick D’Aloisio, a British computer programmer who has turned into a serial entrepreneur, co-founded Sphere in 2016. Initially, it was a real-time question and answer app, but it has grown into a central centre for group conversations and discussions (via CNBC). Sphere’s goal was to add structure to group talks taking place on mobile devices during its standalone existence. The Sphere website described some of the system’s capabilities, including self-clearing feeds, auto-archiving, and call-outs for key communications. It also allowed users to engage in interactive dialogues that were organized according to their unique interests.
With the acquisition of Sphere, D’Aloisio has sold his second firm; in 2013, when he was 17 years old, he sold his news summarizer startup Summly to Yahoo for $30 million. According to a blog post on Sphere’s website, all 20 members of the company’s small 20-person staff will be joining Twitter. A post from Nick Caldwell (Twitter’s vice president of engineering) stated that Sphere would be assisting Twitter with developing its Communities, DMS, and Creators product roadmaps. It will be particularly fascinating to observe how Sphere affects Twitter’s invitation-only Communities. In September, this feature was released to compete with Facebook Groups and is now exclusively available to invited users. Users can join communities that cater to their unique hobbies, such as those for shoe collectors or skincare enthusiasts. Although Communities are now only available to those who have been invited, Sphere may assist with expediting the process and making the feature open to everyone.