Facebook has acquired the two-year-old startup FriendFeed, which has built a Web-based tool that enables people to interact with multiple social networking platforms all in one place. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based FriendFeed was founded by four well-regarded ex Google executives, including Bret Taylor—who launched Google Maps and Paul Buchheit—the brains behind Gmail. The idea behind FriendFeed is to simplify digital communications by allowing users to share information, links, videos and the like through multiple communications platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and email. Users can then carry on an live conversation with different friends groups, regardless of what platform those friends are using.
Facebook officials said that all 12 FriendFeed employees will be retained as part of the acquisition, and FriendFeed’s four founders will assume senior roles within Facebook’s engineering and product teams.
The acquisition of FriendFeed would not appear to have any immediate revenue or advertising implications for Facebook. However the startup is one of several companies at the forefront of “real time” communications on the Web, a concept which has been buoyed by microblogging services Twitter and soon adopted by Facebook as well as the portals AOL and Yahoo.
Some advocates of this highly integrated and instantaneous communications phenomenon see it having a major impact on content delivery and search—as more Web users potentially opt to receive information through friends circles rather than publishers and media companies.
But for Facebook, FriendFeed’s technology may simply make it easier for users to consume and share content on the site, and for advertisers to attach their messages to popular content. Neither are Facebook strengths currently, according to Michael Burke, president and founder of the social networking application rep firm appssavvy. “Facebook is a great place for to publish content, status updates and photos, but it’s a lousy place to consume content,” he said. “Basically, you can’t organize all that well nor can you effectively search inside or outside your friend network.”
Burke added: “The goal with FriendFeed…should be to help users manage, aggregate and search this content. In addition, from an advertising standpoint, all of this should create more activity around the content, and that should create advertising opportunities.”