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Path sells its social-networking app to Daum Kakao

Privacy-focused social network for mobile devices eschewed advertising but failed to gain traction beyond tech circles.

Path has sold its social network to Daum Kakao.

Path, a social network designed for mobile devices, has agreed to be acquired by Daum Kakao, the South Korean maker of the popular Kakao Talk messaging app.

The acquisition of Path and the Path Talk app was announced Thursday in a blog post by Path CEO Dave Morin. The company's two main apps will continue to operate under the new ownership, with a greater emphasis on Southeast Asian markets, Morin said.

"Path and Daum Kakao share an important core value: we both strive to better connect you to the people, places and things that are the most important to you," Morin said in his post. "We have reached a tipping point on our journey and for Path to truly grow we need more resources and a larger local team that deeply understands Southeast Asian markets. Future product updates will continue to improve connecting, sharing and communicating in the Path community."

The acquisition will add the San Francisco-based social network's 10 million active users to Daum Kakao's 48 million users.

Morin said that the remaining Path Inc. would continue to operate Kong, the selfie gif-creation app launched last month.

Financial details of the acquisition were not revealed.

As smartphones with their always-on connections have become ubiquitous, customers have flocked to Internet-based messaging services. But Path took a different approach to social networking, eschewing advertising and encouraging users to share connections with a relatively small circle of friends.

The startup prided itself on being a private place for people to connect with close friends -- no more than 150. But the first version of the application, released in 2010, was primarily just a photo-sharing service, and it didn't gain much initial traction outside of tech circles.

Path was also at the center of a privacy scandal for collecting and storing data from users' address books without permission. The matter concluded with the company paying an $800,000 fine to the Federal Trade Commission.

The acquisition comes less than a year after the social network launched a new service that took a different approach from the large and growing list of companies offering a new separate messaging app for mobile devices. Path Talk, which was released in June 2014, added the ability to both communicate with one another and ask questions from businesses, such as whether they have particular items in stock or an open table for dinner.