Facebook acquires location-based service Gowalla’s talent, not the app

Jeremy C. Owens

Originally posted in the San Jose Mercury News. Courtesy of MCT Campus.

Facebook announced Monday that it has hired the team behind the location-sharing service Gowalla, but will not acquire nor integrate the current service offered by the Austin, Texas-based company.

Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other Gowalla workers, will join the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social network’s design and engineering teams in January, according to a Facebook statement. Neither company announced any price Facebook paid in the deal.

“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,” a Facebook spokesman said in an email.

The move follows a developing pattern for Facebook and other Silicon Valley technology companies to acquire other companies strictly for their personnel.

For instance, in August, Facebook acquired Push Pop Press, which created imaginatively interactive e-books. Like the Gowalla purchase, Facebook at the time said that “the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook.”

Facebook announced last week that it is opening an engineering office in New York after opening a similar office in Seattle in 2010, part of the company’s effort to expand their search for top-notch talent.

Facebook has location-sharing functionality within its framework, allowing users to tag status updates, photos and more with their location. But separate location-sharing apps that interact with Facebook, such as Foursquare, have proved to be more popular than Facebook’s offerings.

Gowalla launched in 2007 as a mobile application that allowed users to “check in” at locations. The company launched a redesigned app in September that featured guides to cities around the world collected from users, who were encouraged to use their check-ins as “stories,” full-fledged descriptions of areas and events to which others could add.

About the same time the new Gowalla appeared, co-founders Williams and Raymond attended Facebook’s f8 Developers Conference, and “were blown away by Facebook’s new developments,” Williams wrote in a blog post Monday detailing the move.

“A few weeks later Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together. So we’re excited to announce that we’ll be making the journey to California,” Williams added.

Gowalla said in September that it had a 30-person team, but neither company detailed exactly how many of those workers will be moving to Silicon Valley to work for Facebook. The Gowalla service will eventually stop functioning near the end of January, Williams said, but users will be able to transfer all their data, which Facebook did not acquire.

Originally posted in the San Jose Mercury News. Courtesy of MCT Campus.