Facebook is to acquire privately held social networking firm Gowalla for an undisclosed sum in a bid to improve its location-based networking operations.
Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams revealed the deal in a post on the company's official blog. Following completion, Gowalla will begin to shut down its operations and transfer staff to Facebook's California headquarters by the end of January 2012.
Gowalla has stressed that it will not sell or transfer any user data to Facebook.
Williams said that discussions began when Gowalla executives attended Facebook's F8 conference.
"We were blown away by Facebook's new developments. 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," he said.
Ray Valdes, research director for internet platforms and web services at Gartner, believes the acquisition is primarily based on bringing in Gowalla's engineering team and, to a lesser extent, intellectual property.
"Facebook is unlikely to replace its own Places service with Gowalla, so the acquisition is not driven by acquiring a product or technology," he told V3.
"The company is acquiring skilled, talented engineers who have experience in location-based social networking."
Such moves are not uncommon for Facebook, which has a history of buying up smaller firms as a means of bringing development teams into its ranks.
"It is well known in the industry that a talented engineer can outperform an average one by a factor of 10," he said.
"Facebook has spent what others might consider large sums of money per engineer, but it is able to move quickly and add to its successful social networking offering."
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