Are emoji worth millions? Snapchat just said so

Snapchat pays $100 million to acquire customised comic and emoji app Bitstrips.

If you are an avid social media user like me, you are bound to remember when your Facebook newsfeed almost turned into Comic-Con a few years back. Newsfeeds flooded with personalised comics called Bitstrips in late 2013, to be precise. If you go looking, I'm sure you will find an album of yours on Facebook entitled 'Bitstrip Photos.' It seems there is no getting away from Bitstrips. Snapchat just purchased the company for almost $100 million according to Fortune. You might see Bitstrips on Snapchat very soon. 

Talking about social media crazes from my teenage years makes me feel old despite being just twenty-two. I remember the first Bitstrip I created before heading off to a college ball. In case, you don't know what a Bitstrip looks like, here's mine from 2013:

That is me and my friend Sharon in the Bitstrips.


What are Bitstrips, I hear you ask?

In the words of Jacob Blackstock, Bitstrips CEO and Creative Director:

"Basically, it's an app that turns you and your friends into a cast of cartoon characters. Then you can take those characters and put them into crazy scenes. It's a new way to express yourself and interact with your friends."

The concept for the mobile application came about when Blackstock was in high school. He drew comics and passed them to his friend Shahan Panth (now VP Marketing at Bitstrips). Although the pair were reprimanded by their teacher, Panth encouraged Blackstock to continue expressing himself through comics. They turned their love for comic drawings into a business in 2007 and Bitstrips was born.

Later they developed Bitmoji an application that allows you to create personalised emoji. The app generated $8 million from Horizon Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2014.


"All the movies, all the television shows, all the fashion houses, all the pop stars, they all want to be bitmojis because we somehow became the determinant of who has made it," - Jacob Blackstock, CEO Bitstrips


What brands can learn from the acquisition 

When Snapchat gets serious with emoji's, we should all pay attention. I knew emojis were popular but I did not know they were $100 million popular. Emoji add a personal, more emotional touch to writing that can be very 'black and white' in nature. Brands should use emoji's to connect with customers particularly younger customers such as millennials and the upcoming generation Z.


A look to the future of Snapchat and Bitstrip

It will be interesting to see if and how Snapchat will integrate Bitstrip in its current product. Neither company has commented on the acquisition thus far or how it will affect the brands into the future. Snapchat currently features emojis in their application but not the ability for users to personalise emojis.

The Bitstrips deal could help the quick growing social media messaging platform to extend its emoji keyboard. They may even charge for personalised emoji given the failure of their in app lens store that they closed in January.

Bitstrips is probably not the last of Snapchat's acquisitions. The company seems to be on an acquisition streak. According to leaked emails from Michael Lynton, a Sony executive and Snapchat Director they acquired eyeglass maker Vergence Labs, video-chat service AddLive and QR-scanning app Scan for as much as $50 million.

We will have to wait and see if emoji are worth the millions Snapchat just paid.


What do you think of Snapchat's latest move? Do you think they will be able to monetise their new acquisition? Let me know in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading, if you want me to cover a particular issue or topic on my blog send me a tweet @oconnorpadraig