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Snapchat makes $15m secret purchase of wearable tech startup

Snapchat has secretly acquired Vergence Labs, a US startup that manufactures a Google Glass-style product.

The information has come to light after Sony Entertainment CEO and Snapchat board member Michael Lynton’s inbox was leaked as part of the well-publicised Sony hack.

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The emails reveal that Snapchat paid $15 million (£9.5 million) to buy Vergence, consisting of $11 million in cash and $4 million in stock. Despite Vergence Labs making no indication that it is owned by the mobile app company, sources at the firm have confirmed the acquisition to Business Insider.

While it is possible that Snapchat made the purchase to acquire Vergence staff or some behind-the-scenes technology it is developing, it is likely to be most interested in the firm’s Epiphany Eyewear product. The device takes the form of glasses that can record video simply by pressing a button on the side of the frame.

Epiphany Eyewear is available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions with prices ranging between $300 and $500. The user then just has to connect the glasses to a computer to upload their footage to their Vergence account. While the glasses are not capable of taking photographs, the company does offer software capable of capturing still images from video files.

Vergence Labs was founded by Erick Miller and John Rodriguez in 2011, before Google Glass was unveiled, making it one of the early exponents of wearable technology.

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While the Snapchat acquisition has been kept under wraps, it seems that the two companies have had a behind-the-scenes partnership for some time. Another leaked email revealed that Snapchat has previously loaned Vergence $2 million.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.