Snappy Acquisition of Student Startup, Scan
Hollywood secrets weren’t the only things ousted in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal. News of Snapchat’s acquisition of a BYU-student startup also hit the blogosphere.
Scan is a QR-scanning app founded in 2011 by three former and current BYU students: Garrett Gee, Kirk Ouimet, and Ben Turley. The company specializes in creating and scanning QR codes as well as iBeacon technology. Rumors swirled in the tech world after leaked emails from the hack surfaced, showing Snapchat surreptitiously acquiring Scan last year. Theories abounded as to the reason for the purchase, but when Snapchat recently unveiled the app’s slick iOS update, it became clear.
Along with the app’s revamped layout, users can now add Snapchat friends by scanning each other’s unique QR codes, called Snaptags, rather than searching through piles of usernames. This adding function, previously considered one of the app’s weaknesses, is now a social strength. Users can share their Snaptag on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to easily score new followers.
According to leading technology blog TechCrunch, this new feature is made possible with technology from the company’s hush-hush acquisition of Scan. The emails also revealed details of the sale—Scan cost Snapchat a total of $51 million, which included a cool $14 million in cash and $33 million in company stock.
TechCrunch posted emails between Snapchat executives and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton revealing several of the company’s acquisitions, including Scan. However, Snapchat’s Steve Hwang described the sale as super-secret, only saying that Scan has “seven engineers from Utah, who will be moving out in the coming weeks.”
Because of the conditions of the sale, Scan’s founders are unavailable for interview. Ouimet, an information systems student from Orem, and Gee an industrial design major from Highland, are both current BYU students. Turley is a 2010 information systems graduate. Gee’s bio explains Scan’s beginnings: “While a freshman at BYU, I started Scan with two of my classmates, Kirk Ouimet and Ben Turley. Since then, we have grown Scan to over forty million users all around the world and our small but brilliant team has grown to eight.”
From small beginnings in Provo to a multi-million-dollar deal, BYU information systems students are proving to be movers and shakers in the tech world.