Facebook confirms Gowalla acquisition

5 Dec 2011

Facebook has confirmed its acquisition of travel app firm Gowalla, whose staff will join its design and engineering teams and no doubt influence the development of Timeline.

Over the weekend, word began to filter out that Facebook had acquired Gowalla.

This afternoon, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We’re excited to confirm that Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other members of the Gowalla team, are moving to Facebook in January to join our design and engineering teams.

“In talking with the Gowalla team, we realised 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.

“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 spokesperson said.

In a blog post on the Gowalla site, CEO Josh Williams said: “Three years ago, Gowalla’s journey began when I took a photograph of Lake Tahoe on my iPhone. I had just finished a phone call with my dad, and I wanted nothing more than to share that photo and place with him. Not just in a text message or status update sort of way, but with a bit of weight that said ‘I wish you were here’ and ‘this moment and place are meaningful to me.’

“We created Gowalla to inspire people to go out and share those places, photos and stories. The past three years have been quite the journey, often times in a very literal sense!

“The Gowalla Passport has become a record of all the places we’ve visited, the people we were with, the photos we took, and the stories we told. Many of you even use Gowalla like a scrapbook of sorts — a place to keep all those memories,” Williams said.

Williams said Gowalla as a service will be winding down as a service at the end of January but users will be provided with an easy way to export their Passport, Stamp and Pin data, along with legacy data and photographs. “Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla’s user data,” he said.

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