March 08, 2012

Ahead of SXSW, Yobongo Is Acquired-ongo

A year and a half ago, Caleb Elston left his cushy job at to try out a new role as startup founder and CEO, at Yobongo. His project tapped into a previously underserved market of people who wanted to chat with others nearby, regardless of existing social connections. Yobongo launched as an iOS app, and placed you in a public mobile chat room of sorts to talk to people in your area - not around specific topics, not requiring invites to a specific event, and not requiring you to know anyone - much like the public AOL chatrooms of old.

Yobongo was swept up in the mobile group chat mini-boom approaching SXSW in 2011, alongside Beluga, GroupMe and many others, most of whom have seen significant change in the year following, with Beluga's acquisition by Facebook and GroupMe's acquisition by Skype being two of the most memorable. Today, Yobongo joined the M&A crowd, sending a note to all users that they had been acquired by Palo Alto-based Mixbook, a photo book and calendaring company.

If it sounds like there's a mismatch from the initial product scope and new acquirer, then you guessed right, as the mission statement has changed. Elston's note says, "Today, we are excited to start a new chapter in helping people communicate. Together with Mixbook we will accelerate our efforts to help people communicate with their photos." So what you know about Yobongo has changed and they are on to something new. As a longtime watcher of Elston's products through their many iterations, starting with Toluu back in March of 2008, I wish him and the team the best at their new adventure as one door closes and another opens.

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