Facebook fights Twitter with FriendFeed and ex-Googlers

11 Aug 2009

Popular social networking site Facebook has agreed to acquire real-time aggregator service FriendFeed along with its ex-Google engineer co-founders for an undisclosed sum.

FriendFeed, whose founders are ex-Google engineers, allows users to pull in all the latest feeds from social media services including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and so on but resembles Twitter in that it also provides real-time search combined with micro-blogging.

Launched in November 2007 this service has been growing rapidly in popularity, with high profile users including Robert Scoble and Digg.com founder Kevin Rose.

While Facebook, with its estimated global user base of over 250m, overhauled its front-page earlier this year to include Twitter-like status updates, now what FriendFeed will bring to the table that it has been missing is real-time.

Facebook has not yet disclosed how it plans to integrate FriendFeed into its social networking site but all 12 FriendFeed employees will join Facebook and FriendFeed’s four founders will hold senior roles on Facebook’s engineering and product teams.

In the official press release Facebook also pointed out that the FriendFeed co-founders played pivotal roles in Google during their time there as engineers.

Co-founder Bret Taylor was the group product manager who launched Google Maps while Paul Buchheit was the Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ motto.

All four co-founders played key roles at Google in the development of products like Gmail and Google Maps.

“Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends,” said Taylor, one of the FriendFeed co-founders.

“We can’t wait to join the team and bring many of the innovations we’ve developed at FriendFeed to Facebook’s 250 million users around the world.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “Since I first tried FriendFeed, I’ve admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information.

“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.”

Co-founder Bucheit said of the acquisition: “As we spent time with Mark (Zuckerberg) and his leadership team, we were impressed by the open, creative culture they’ve built and their desire to have us contribute to it.

“It was immediately obvious to us how passionate Facebook’s engineers are about creating simple, ground-breaking ways for people to share, and we are extremely excited to join such a like-minded group.”