Facebook Acquires Social Veterans in FriendFeed Deal

Jeremiah Owyang

[Posted by Jeremiah K. Owyang]

Facebook makes a play and acquires Friendfeed, a sharing and aggregation tool that helps people find out what their friends are doing. Read Friendfeed's announcement, and Facebook's blog post

A few months ago the Facebook and Twitter deal fell apart, and Facebook knows it must open its community to the open web –not just behind a login in order to benefit from generating revenues through advertising and search advertising. 

This Friendfeed acquisition make sense as it’s primarily a buy of the talent and team –not so much the website itself. Why? This team of ex-googlers have roots in gmail and google maps, they know how to build scalable social apps, and are also located in Silicon Valley (I’ve visited them a handful of times). 

Friendfeed.com doesn’t have a tremendous amount of visitors (monthly uniques are under 1mm says Compete, compared to Facebook’s 250mm registered users) so the acquisition is for the cherry features like Search, Best of Day, and elegant and rapid procuring of social content in real time. 

Expect information in Facebook to continue to become more public, and this acquisition will help fuel this. Previously, Facebook allowed profiles to be made public, and spurred a landgrab from vanity URLs. 

Although the teams haven’t made any indicators of their long-term plans, I’d expect the Friendfeed features and technologies to be folded into the larger Facebook. The terms of the deal must have been great for Friendfeeders, who have often indicated they wanted to go it alone. 

  • Facebook's acquisition is truly about getting a seasoned team on board that's done it before.
  • Facebook was smart to purchase this young player who has yet to reach critical mass.
  • Expect Friendfeed features to be folded into Facebook.
  • Expect Facebook to continue to show more public content.

I'll keep it brief, love to dialog more in the comments.


re: Facebook Acquires Social Veterans in FriendFeed Deal

Great piece Jeremiah. I think there are two additional, interesting aspects to this acquisition and its potential outcome.First, FriendFeed gives Facebook something that it does better than Twitter and, for some applications, Google too -- real-time search of the social ecosystem. Granted the sample is currently small, but look for the Facebook user-base to scale that value, quickly.Second, and even more interesting, FriendFeed brings Facebook the first and best operating model supporting lifestreaming. A term we weren't even using when FriendFeed launched in 2007, it describes the place - context - where my online me collects all the various bits and pieces - streams - of my activity, content & connections across the social web.Facebook, even as it mimicked and copied a lot of FriendFeed's functionality over the past few quarters, is still a closed network. Its piece of the lifestream, even if large, is cordoned off.That's why many early adopters of FriendFeed quickly tired of Facebook (almost as fast as they did of Twitter, but for different reasons), once they discovered FriendFeed.FriendFeed gives Facebook the potential for a public pipe into - and now out of - the lifestreams of hundreds of millions of global users.As a FriendFeed addict, and marketer, I close my eyes and make a wish about Facebook's acquisition of such a sweet & promising platform: now that they bought it, I sure I hope they don't break it.

re: Facebook Acquires Social Veterans in FriendFeed Deal

ThomI share the same (I'm an active FF users too). You bring up a good point about search, yes there's clearly an opportunity there. The challenge is this is not yet Facebook's identity and culture, so it'll be interesting to see how they approach integrating search: will it be part of the core experience (and they generate ad dollars) or tertiary feature.We should expect them to experiment with search, but not get it right for some time.