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  • 08.12.09

Facebook + FriendFeed = Real Time Search??

The Valley is still buzzing from yesterday’s news (TechCrunch broke it, before Facebook confirmed it) that Facebook acquired FriendFeed. Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, folks are speculating that the price tag was around $50 million.

While it would seem logical to contribute the acquisition to Facebook’s desire to replicate Twitter’s functionality – the real story is the bigger battle that is heating up between Facebook and Google.

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From Robert Scoble, the #1 FriendFeed user according to FriendFeed co-founder Paul Buchheit:

This is Facebook firing a shot at Google, not at
Twitter. Twitter is mere collateral damage but Facebook knows the real
money in real time is in search. FriendFeed has real time search.
Google does not (although it’s bootstrapping there very fast, some of
my FriendFeed items are showing up in Google within seconds now).
Facebook has 300 million users. FriendFeed and Twitter do not. Google
has Wave coming, along with some other things this fall and that forced
a shotgun marriage between FriendFeed and Facebook.

As Facebook continues its rapid innovation (for any product for this scale, in history, in ANY industry, they make more changes more rapidly than anybody ever has), the second acquisition
in the company’s history made logical sense. From all accounts,
FriendFeed’s team of 12 is one of the strongest (for its size) in the
Valley, and they will all be joining Facebook’s Palo Alto offices
(likely on the platform team).

From Facebook’s release:

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

With these additions Facebook’s quest for real-time search may have a driver. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that Akhil Wable of Facebook
announced improved Facebook search functions last night on Facebook’s blog, while using the FriendFeed announcement as an example of these new functions.

facebook.search

FriendFeed, appears to share the same aspirations,
although they’d rather talk about open, innovative communication’s
platforms for the time being. Their service will remain open to its
users, but their founders were very clear to note that this is for the
“time being.” The engineering team will likely be working on bigger things than the FriendFeed platform.

FriendFeed’s growth has been flat over the summer,
and although they have not disclosed actual users (Likely around
100,000) , their unique traffic has been around 1 million for the last
several months. Running into these issues with scaling may have opened
the eyes of their founders to the opportunity to work with Facebook’s
250 million + users.

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It’s also something the industry should look closely at when
considering the future path of Twitter and its ability to scale. Even
investors in Twitter have been heard saying that it may never scale
close to the size of Facebook. However, they also note in passing, that
it could be as valuable as Facebook – in the sense of providing a
valuable service to its smaller userbase (Think Craigslist).

About the author

Kyle Austin is marketing communications consultant, as well as the founder and managing partner at Beantown Media Ventures (BMV), a digital content and PR agency for startups. Throughout his career Kyle has provided marketing, communications, public relations and business development counsel for Fortune 500 consumer technology brands, venture-backed startups and non-profits.

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