Facebook has acquired real-time feed aggregator FriendFeed, Facebook has just announced.
As part of the deal, all 12 employees of FriendFeed, which was founded by ex-Googlers Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Paul Buchheit, and Sanjeev Singh, will join Facebook immediately. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we’re guessing it’s mostly or all stock. (FriendFeed had raised $5 million from its founders and Benchmark Capital.)
The acquisition is only the second in Facebook’s history. Two years ago, the company acquired “web OS” company Parakey in a hire-by-acquisition deal that brought Parakey co-founders Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt to the company.
In our view, FriendFeed is also largely a talent acquisition. Buchheit was one of the original creators of Gmail, and Taylor and Norris were part of the original Google Maps team, so the company brings a depth of experience building large scale consumer products to the table. However, FriendFeed has struggled to gain widespread consumer adoption, and US traffic to FriendFeed.com recently leveled out to around 1 million monthly uniques according to Compete.
Nevertheless, the two companies share similar long term product visions. FriendFeed has been steadily building a real-time aggregation service that makes it easy to share online activity with friends. The company’s product has remained clear and streamlined in the two years since it was founded, enabling users to follow others’ activity streams in real time, comment on and “like” shared content, and search the stream – all features that Facebook either has integrated into its core service over the last year or is in the process of integrating, showing some important similarities in product vision between the two companies. As Facebook continues to open up its service to more asymmetric following, the FriendFeed team’s experience could prove very valuable.
This is not the first time Facebook has considered acquiring a company in the space. Last year, Facebook was in heavy discussions to acquire Twitter, but those talks fell through. Now, it will be the FriendFeed shareholders that will be exchanging their stock certificates. Facebook has recently been creating new ways for users to share information more publicly that are more similar to the public nature of sharing on Twitter.
As for FriendFeed.com and the FriendFeed API, FriendFeed says both will continue to “operate normally for the time being as the teams determine the longer term plans for the product.”
Here’s the full announcement from Facebook:
PALO ALTO, CALIF.—August 10, 2009—Facebook today announced that it has agreed to acquire FriendFeed, the innovative service for sharing online. As part of the agreement, all FriendFeed employees will join Facebook and FriendFeed’s four founders will hold senior roles on Facebook’s engineering and product teams.
“Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends,” said Bret Taylor, a FriendFeed co-founder and, previously, the group product manager who launched Google Maps. “We can’t wait to join the team and bring many of the innovations we’ve developed at FriendFeed to Facebook’s 250 million users around the world.”
“As we spent time with Mark and his leadership team, we were impressed by the open, creative culture they’ve built and their desire to have us contribute to it,” said Paul Buchheit, another FriendFeed co-founder. Buchheit, the Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto, added, “It was immediately obvious to us how passionate Facebook’s engineers are about creating simple, ground-breaking ways for people to share, and we are extremely excited to join such a like-minded group.”
Taylor and Buchheit founded FriendFeed along with Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh in October 2007 after all four played key roles at Google for products like Gmail and Google Maps. At FriendFeed, they’ve brought together a world-class team of engineers and designers.
“Since I first tried FriendFeed, I’ve admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use.”
FriendFeed is based in Mountain View, Calif. and has 12 employees. FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being as the teams determine the longer term plans for the product.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not released.