* No price disclosed for FriendFeed purchase
* FriendFeed to operate as is for time being
* Facebook more interested in talent than product -analyst
(Adds comments from FriendFeed founder, analyst, background)
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 10 Facebook, the world's
largest social networking site, said it will buy FriendFeed,
netting a group of prized ex-Google engineers in the
fast-growing Internet business.
FriendFeed, an up-and-coming social media startup, lets
people share content online in real time across various social
networks and blogs.
The service is similar to, though less popular than
Twitter, the microblogging site that Facebook tried to buy for
$500 million in 2008, according to sources familiar with the
Terms of the deal were not disclosed on Monday, but
Facebook said FriendFeed would operate as it has for the time
being as the teams determine long-term plans.
Facebook's big gain in the acquisition is the engineering
talent at FriendFeed, rather than the actual product, which has
won critical praise, but lagged in popularity compared to
Twitter, said Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang.
"These guys now how to build scalable, social
applications," said Owyang.
In a statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he
admired the FriendFeed team for having created a service he
described as simple and elegant.
"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," said Zuckerberg.
FriendFeed's four founders are former Google Inc (GOOG.O)
employees who count well known products like Gmail and Google
Maps among their accomplishments.
Facebook said the founders will hold senior roles on its
engineering and product teams.
FriendFeed had talked with Facebook "casually" for a couple
of months, and that it became clear that the teams were "cut
from the same cloths," FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor told
Reuters in an interview.
He declined to say whether FriendFeed had been in talks
with other companies.
One bridge between Facebook and FriendFeed might have been
Matt Cohler, Facebook's former management vice president. He
joined FriendFeed backer Benchmark Capital last year.
Asked what role the connection played in the deal,
FriendFeed's Taylor said the decision to be acquired by
Facebook was made entirely by the team at FriendFeed.
Facebook has more than 250 million registered users. In
May, the social networking company announced a $200 million
investment from Russian investor Digital Sky Technologies that
pegged the value of its preferred shares at $10 billion.
Facebook has said its revenue is on track to rise 70
percent this year, and board member Mark Andreessen has said
the company will bring in more than $500 million in revenue in
But Forrester's Owyang said that Facebook must make the
content generated within the site more accessible to the public
instead of only to closed networks of Facebook friends, so that
the company can sell more ads.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced changes to its
privacy controls to allow people to make their status messages
and posts viewable to a broader Internet audience.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing Bernard Orr and Robert