Groupon Swallows Seattle’s Pelago, Makers of the Whrrl Check-In App

4/18/11Follow @curtwoodward

There’s been a bit of discussion lately about whether “the check-in” is dead. Chicago-based daily deals behemoth Groupon apparently doesn’t think so: It’s acquiring Seattle’s Pelago, makers of the Whrrl social check-in service. Terms weren’t disclosed.

In a blog post, Groupon Chief Executive Andrew Mason said he was a fan of Whrrl’s technology and people, specifically Pelago CEO Jeff Holden, who will oversee Groupon product development. Mason also said there would be “many Pelago people taking integral roles” at Groupon.

“Their obsession with real-world serendipitous discovery, or “Anti-Search,” is core to Groupon’s mission. It’s about discovering what you didn’t know you didn’t know, right in your own backyard,” Mason wrote.

Whrrl, like FourSquare and other location-based apps, allows users to check in at various places they visit and share pictures, comments, and other information with friends and the wider world. Users can accumulate points and join “societies” of like-minded people, and unlock rewards from other companies.

Whrrl will shut down at the end of April, with its technology being sucked inside the Groupon brand. On his company blog, Holden wrote that Whrrl’s last big engineering task was to create a way for Whrrl users to get back all the data that they’ve been holding in the cloud through Whrrl.

“You will be able to continue using Whrrl normally through April 30,” Holden wrote. “Starting today, however, you’ll find on the website that you now have an option to retrieve your data—pretty much everything you ever put into Whrrl.”

Holden said he hoped people would be able to use it in the future, although neither company said anything about migrating a Whrrl profile over to Groupon. I guess that things like photos might be nice to get back, if someone hadn’t kept them elsewhere. But what in the heck would you do with downloaded check-in data from a defunct service anyway?

Pelago has been around since 2006, led by veterans of Amazon.com, RealNetworks, and Yahoo. Investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bezos Expeditions, T-Mobile investment branch T-Venture, Trilogy Equity Partners, and Reliance Technology Ventures.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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