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GroupMe founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci. Photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Skype, in the process of being acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion, this afternoon got more company on the road to Redmond — announcing a deal to acquire GroupMe, the New York-based startup that makes software for group messaging and conference calling on smartphones.

The companies aren’t saying how much Skype is paying. Familiarize yourself with the likely future Microsoft property with this recent GigaOm story on the company’s first year — which started with an impressive showing at the TechCrunch Disrupt NYHackathon.

There are GroupMe apps for BlackBerry, Android, iPhone … and, yes, Mr. Ballmer, there’s a new one for Windows Phone, as well.

“This acquisition is another step towards our vision to provide a global multi-modal and multi-platform communications experience,” writes Skype CEO Tony Bates in a post today. “It complements our existing leadership in voice and video communications by providing best in class mobile text-based communications and innovative features around group messaging that enable users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest ties.”

Bates tells TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington today that Skype has been talking to GroupMe about the deal for a few months, overlapping with Skype’s Microsoft negotiations.

Skype, which remains an independent company until the Microsoft deal closes, has recently been running around like a bachelor tying up loose ends before his wedding day — rolling out a video chat application with Facebook, shaking up its executive ranks, and releasing not one but two iPads apps.

Photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

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