Facebook has acquired Octazen, a small startup most known for its contact importer software, GigaOm’s Liz Gannes reports. Facebook’s Larry Yu characterized the move as a “talent acquisition,” saying the company’s two employees have joined Facebook as engineers.
Although it may sound boring, contact importing has actually played a very important part in Facebook’s growth over the last five years. Contact importers are software tools that allow you to provide login credentials for an email service like Gmail or Hotmail, and automatically import the names and email addresses of people you’ve communicated with in the past.
Facebook has used contact importers to make it easier to find friends already on the site, and invite new friends to join, heavily promoting its contact importer on the home page to promote growth. Some startups have also been known for behaving more aggressively and using contact importers to automatically spam all imported contacts.
Before now, Octazen licensed its software to customers interested in adding an out-of-the-box contact importer that worked well across a number of email providers. It’s likely that Facebook was using and iterating on the Octazen code so heavily that they decided to bring the team in house.
Facebook tells us Octazen will remain based in Malaysia, making them the first Facebook employees based in Asia full time. However, Facebook says, “This won’t become an office… It’s just a talent acquisition and they’ll be considered remote workers since we’ve opted to let them remain in Malaysia.”