Facebook buys messaging service Beluga

2 Mar 2011

Social networking kingpin Facebook has acquired a group messaging firm headed by a bunch of ex-Googlers called Beluga, with the intent of getting its hands on the firm’s technology and of course, its talent.

Beluga covers two of the sweet spots that Facebook wants to command – groups and messaging.

How much Facebook paid for the company – which was in the process of attracting angel investment – has not been disclosed.

But it is clear the war for talent is heating up enormously.

Beluga’s founders

Beluga’s CEO is Ben Davenport. Prior to founding Beluga, Ben helped build Google AdSense, and before that, MSN Explorer.

Co-founder and president happens to be Lucy Zhang, who helped design and develop products such as Google AdWords,Google News and Google Docs.

Another co-founder, Jonathan Perlow, was a senior staff engineer at Google where he was the tech lead of the Gmail front-end team focusing on user interface and server scalability. He was also responsible for Gmail Chat and Mail Goggles.

“Since launching Beluga, we’ve appreciated all the enthusiasm and positive feedback from our users,” the founders said.

“We’re excited to continue to build our vision for mobile group messaging as part of the Facebook team. Beluga and Facebook are committed to creating new and better ways to communicate and share group experiences.

“For now, Beluga will continue to function as it does today. Your Beluga account and data will not be lost. We’ll be providing more details on future plans for Beluga in the coming weeks,” the team said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years