Facebook grabs Gowalla team, but not technology
(Reuters) - Facebook has hired the co-founders of Gowalla, one of the pioneering companies that developed the concept of "checking in" at real-world locations with mobile phones.
Facebook, which has its own location features built in to its online social network, will not acquire Gowalla's technology. And Gowalla's service will be shut down at the end of January.
"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," Facebook said in an emailed statement on Monday.
"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," the company said.
A Facebook spokesman declined to specify what product or service the Gowalla team would work on at Facebook, other than noting that the team would join Facebook's design and engineering teams.
Gowalla was released the same week in 2009 as Foursquare, a rival location services startup. Both companies provided a way for people to broadcast their whereabouts to friends and others by using their mobile phones to "check-in" at real-world establishments, such as coffee shops and restaurants.
But Foursquare's service increased its number of users faster than Gowalla, and Gowalla was never able to catch up.
Facebook, the world's No. 1 social network with more than 800 million users, introduced its own location feature, dubbed Places, in August 2010.
In a post on the official Gowalla blog, co-founder Josh Williams said the company would provide an easy way for users to export their data, such as photos posted to the soon-to-be-shut-down service. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data, Williams said.
Williams and Gowalla co-founder Scott Raymond will both join Facebook in January, along with other members of the Gowalla team. Facebook did not respond to an inquiry about the number of Gowalla members joining the company.
(Corrects name of Facebook's location feature to "Places" from "Paces," third paragraph from bottom)
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, editing by Matthew Lewis)