Gowalla confirmed that its co-founders plus other key team members are moving west to work at Facebook on product and engineering. Facebook did not acquire the Gowalla product or the technology behind it and did not disclose how many Gowalla employees will be joining the company.
This looks like a classic talent acquisition where Facebook picks up a handful of product managers, designers and engineers and shuts down the startup’s original products. CNN reported on Friday that the Gowalla team was being hired to work on Timeline. However, Facebook did not say what product they would be transitioned to working on. It’s sometimes the case that the people who Facebook acquires work on products that are very different from what their startups were centered upon.
As we said on Friday, Gowalla reportedly had a $28.4 million post-money valuation after its most recent round of funding. It’s doubtful, although not certain, that the price was higher than that, since this was a team — and not product — acquisition.
The Austin-based company launched as a location-sharing service back in 2009 but never got the same sort of traction that New York-based rival Foursquare saw. Today, we can see that the Gowalla app has 10,000 daily active users connected to Facebook against Foursquare’s 560,000 daily actives. Facebook also has its location product Places, which it changed a few months ago to scrap the check-in feed from its mobile platform. Instead, Facebook users must add a city location or tag a specific Place in their Wall or Timeline posts.
Gowalla pivoted earlier this year too, changing its check in-centric app to one that is like a crowdsourced local and travel guide.
Here’s Facebook’s statement:
We’re excited to confirm that Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other members of the Gowalla team, are moving to Facebook in January to join our design and engineering teams. In talking with the Gowalla team, we realized that we share many of the same goals: building great products that reach millions of people, making a big impact quickly, and creating new ways for people to connect and share what’s going on in their lives. While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time.
Three years ago Gowalla’s journey began when I took a photograph of Lake Tahoe on my iPhone. I had just finished a phone call with my dad, and I wanted nothing more than to share that photo and place with him. Not just in a text message or status update sort of way, but with a bit of weight that said “I wish you were here” and “this moment and place are meaningful to me.”
We created Gowalla to inspire people to go out and share those places, photos and stories. The past three years have been quite the journey, oft-times in a very literal sense!
The Gowalla Passport has become a record of all the places we’ve visited, the people we were with, the photos we took, and the stories we told. Many of you even use Gowalla like a scrapbook of sorts — a place to keep all those memories.
About two months ago, my co-founder Scott and I attended F8. We were blown away by Facebook’s new developments. A few weeks later Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together. So we’re excited to announce that we’ll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!
Gowalla, as a service, will be winding down at the end of January. We plan to provide an easy way to export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with your legacy Item data), and your photos as well. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla’s user data.
We know how much many of you loved Gowalla. It’s been the highlight of our lives as we’ve built it with your help over the past two years. As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla — a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go — will live on at Facebook.
We’re so very grateful for the support of our community, our investors, our families, and, of course, the City of Austin as well. You’ve all played a special role in seeing us to this day.