FriendFeed Acquisition Could Accelerate Facebook’s Open Platform Plans

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This morning, Facebook acquired FriendFeed, a real-time aggregation and sharing service, in the company’s second acquisition ever (the first was Parakey). The FriendFeed team will be moving to Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto soon.

What does the deal mean for developers, marketers, and the future of the Facebook Platform? We just spoke with Paul Buchheit, co-founder of FriendFeed, and Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s VP of Engineering.

“We can’t go into too much detail just because it’s so early, but a lot of what really drove this was our realization after talking to many people at Facebook that we have a shared vision for where sharing and collaborating should go,” Buchheit says.

“The [Facebook] platform is a large part of the draw for us. We put a lot of thought into the FriendFeed platform, making it simple and easy to build apps on top of. We are also a consumer of the Facebook Platform, and altogether we’ve learned a lot of lessons.”

Facebook’s Mike Schroepfer says developers should see the acquisition as part of the company’s overall increasing investment in the Facebook Platform.

“We really respect the team, the way they build the product, and the [FriendFeed] platform,” Schroepfer says. “We are trying to increase our investment overall in the Platform. There will be more features rolling out over the course of the year like the Open Stream API that should make the Platform more open and make more data available to developers. This could accelerate some of those efforts.”

FriendFeed’s product has remained clear and streamlined in the nearly 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 public sharing – especially as it relates to publishing-related developer tools like the Open Stream API and Facebook Connect – the FriendFeed team’s experience could prove very valuable. While Schroepfer and Buchheit wouldn’t say which groups the FriendFeed team would specifically be merged into, it’s possible that one of FriendFeed’s founders could take a leadership role on the Platform team, helping Facebook better navigate the tensions between privacy and openness for its 250 million users and thousands of application developers.