Whrrl started out trying to be a mobile version of Yelp and was compelled (like Loopt) to reinvent itself several times as its local-mobile segment became more and more competitive. As you may have seen earlier, the company behind Whrrl (Pelago) was acquired by Groupon.
Here’s Groupon’s statement:
We’ve always liked CEO Jeff Holden, the Whrrl team and the technology they’ve developed. 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. Jeff intimately gets consumer buying behavior and the importance of a great user experience, and his team is this awesome combination of data-driven creatives…the people who create smart products that are really fun to use.
You might think at first that this is strange… But it actually makes a ton of sense. Many people think of Groupon as one thing: the inventor of the daily deal.
But as it often is in such cases, there is an amazing vision behind the company that goes far beyond what is visible on the surface today. Whrrl’s mission has always been to increase the possibility of adventure in our daily real-world lives, and to that end, we invented an idea economy (with Whrrlbot as its inexhaustible champion!) It turns out that Groupon has a very similar mission, except they approached it by creating a new kind of deal economy . . .
What does this mean for Whrrl? We’ve made the decision to close the curtain on Whrrl for now. Think of it as the end of the first act of a long and complex play. You would be right to expect that the ideas underpinning Whrrl and many of the inventions contained within may reemerge under the Groupon banner.
This is partly about talent and partly about technology . . . in the short term to accelerate Groupon Now, which is somewhat behind its LivingSocial competitor Instant Deals.
Whrrl emerged finally as a clever loyalty and brand marketing platform. However it’s been overshadowed by others in the LBS space, specifically Foursquare and more recently Facebook.
It’s unclear what the deal consisted of (stock + cash or all stock) but it gives Whrrl an exit and gives Groupon some new capabilities as it evolves beyond where it is today.
Update: Here’s Pelago CEO Jeff Holden’s quick email statement to me:
I can’t say much more than is already in the blog post, unfortunately. I’m just super excited to be part of Groupon — the culture and mission are perfectly aligned with Pelago’s, and it’s truly an innovation company at its core.