In a one-two punch that targets Google and Twitter, Facebook is acquiring FriendFeed and has rolled out new search capabilities. With these moves, Facebook may be positioning itself as a social-media hub.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal is valuing the deal at $50 million.
FriendFeed is a service for sharing online. The site bills itself as a fun and interactive way to discover and discuss information among friends. Members get an instant, customized feed made up of content friends have shared, from photos to interesting links and videos and personal messages.
"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."
Facebook Adds Google Power
Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit founded FriendFeed along with Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh in October 2007. All four played key roles at Google for products like Gmail and Google Maps. FriendFeed employees will join Facebook, with FriendFeed's founders holding 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 Taylor, 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."
FriendFeed has 12 employees. FriendFeed.com will continue to operate for the time being as the teams determine long-term plans for the product. Buchheit said the team was impressed by Facebook's open, creative culture and their desire to have FriendFeed's staff contribute to it.
"It was immediately obvious to us how passionate Facebook's engineers are about creating simple, groundbreaking ways for people to share, and we are extremely excited to join such a like-minded group," said Buchheit, the Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google's "Don't be evil" motto.
Facebook's Competitive Moves
Facebook also announced a new version of its search. Members can now search the last 30 days of the news feed for status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by friends and the Facebook pages of which they are fans. Search results will continue to include people's profiles as well as relevant Facebook pages, groups and applications.
Greg Sterling principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, said FriendFeed's team will help Facebook get better in the category of real-time search and related activity, like sharing content.
"Facebook is competing with Twitter to be the center of real-time activity and updates for people online," he said. "Right now, Facebook is playing catch-up and sees the team -- not so much the technology -- at FriendFeed as helping with development efforts."