Uber has acqui-hired Swipe Labs, the social product studio run by Marwan Roushdy, to help the company further develop its driver app.
According to news from TechCrunch, Roushdy and a selection of engineers from the tech startup, which experiments with new social media products to craft better mobile communication experiences for users, will join Uber to work on the driver experience within the driver earnings team.
Swipe Labs’ founders Roushdy and Addison Hardy met while working at now-defunct social media map app Connect and originally set out to launch a furniture rental startup called Fonzy. When that flopped, they raised a seed round to build Tag for privately sharing photos with groups of friends, but it too never took off. They eventually took those ideas and created Swipe, which allowed users to post photos and videos that appeared in a stack alongside other users’ content on the Swipe home screen of friends.
The mobile app grew to more than a million users in its first few weeks, attracting a $5.6 million round and a lofty valuation. Yet as Snapchat continued to grow, Swipe petered out, and Hardy left the company.
Over four years, Swipe raised $8.2 million and built four mobile apps for sharing photos, videos and group texts. While the terms of the Uber acquisition weren’t disclosed, a source told TechCrunch that it is “definitely acquihire. They were running out of cash,” rather than being a lucrative acquisition.
Uber’s recent scandals, including sexual discrimination accusations and a lawsuit from Google, means the company might be having difficulty hiring in the competitive Silicon Valley job market. Acqui-hiring companies allows it to obtain good talent all at once.
And as the company’s driver app adds tipping, the tech startup team at Swipe Labs could make it easier for drivers to make more money, understand what they’re earning and get the payouts they need to support themselves and their families.