In a move that makes a lot of sense for Facebook, the social networking giant has acquired up-and-coming social aggregator FriendFeed, which has been at the forefront of innovation in social media since it was founded in 2007. The financial terms weren't disclosed but the Wall Street Journal claims it was a $50 million deal, with $15 million in cash and $35 million in stock.
“Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends,” said Bret Taylor, one of FriendFeed's cofounders. “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.”
FriendFeed has been praised by the tech media and others in the industry but has so far failed to get too much traction, having just passed the 1 million unique monthly visitors mark recently. At its heart it is a real-time feed aggregator bringing together updates and content from a multitude of services like social networks, social bookmarking sites, blogs and microblogs but also any type of RSS/Atom feed. Users can create customized feeds to share with their friends or the world and there is also the possibility to comment on the stories or post original content. FriendFeed will not shut down for the foreseeable future and its fate is still being discussed.
“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."
Zuckerberg admired it so much that Facebook has been “borrowing” features for a while now, adopting things like the possibility to incorporate outside content into the news stream, the emphasis on real time and even the “like” feature. The acquisition, though, wasn't about the technology and it certainly wasn't about FriendFeed's minuscule user base. The biggest asset and the thing that Facebook actually wanted is FriendFeed's all-star engineering team, including the four cofounders, all of them ex-Googlers, having created some of the company's most popular products, like Gmail and Maps.