Why Did Snapchat Snatch up Cimagine Media?

This Christmas morning began with the news appeared on Israeli media claiming that Snapchat is about to buy a company next to Jesus’s neighborhood. Cimagine Media, an AR technology startup from Kfar Yehoshua, a small village at the foot of Nazareth mountain, has been secretly acquired by the photo-sharing app from Los Angeles for $30-$40 million, according to the Israeli Calcalist News. We at Zirra confirmed the news with our sources. They described a company built by hard-working people from a Moshav, an Israeli version of cooperative agricultural community, who developed one of the best AR technology in the world.

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What will Snapchat do with Cimagine and how will it impact its IPO, scheduled for the next spring? Cimagine developed a technology that allows users to virtually place appliances or furniture in the space of their home on their mobile devices. It could help Snapchat’s users to place not only virtual goods but imaginary items, such as animals, monster or any other amusing idea that can be injected into a teenagers’ chat. The business model is clear: After placing a virtual elephant in the room, why not allowing Samsung to advertise a TV set, allowing users to place it on their desks?

In past interviews, the company told it competes with AR catalog companies such as Sayduck and Adornably, and some software houses who provide bespoke development services for AR projects. All of them use one of the few AR SDKs available on the market. But Cimagine’s biggest competitor was already acquired. It is German AR company Metaio, acquired by last May by Apple. Sources close to the Snapchat’s deal describes “Cimagine as the second-best technology after Metaio, while the third player in the market has still a long way to go.”

Snapchat is probably a great home for Cimagine, after proving it can acquire and rapidly deploy a relevant and successful product to the market. The acquisition Looksery became brought the popular Snapchat’s lenses and faces, making it perhaps one of the most engaged AR product in the market. Adding virtual items into the reality, placing them automatically on the desk can be Snapchat’s new big hit. And although being acquired almost a year after Metaio, Cimagine could be launched as a part of Snapchat’s features immediately.


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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for Zirra.com.