Kara Swisher

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Facebook Acquires Not-Twitter, Oops, FriendFeed (Plus the Full Press Release and More)


Facebook said today it is acquiring FriendFeed, the online content-sharing site.

It is a logical fit for the huge social networking site, which has lagged behind microblogging kingpin Twitter in the real-time news, search and status game of perception in Silicon Valley.

Mountain View, Calif.-based FriendFeed has also trailed well behind Twitter, despite its top-notch pedigree of ex-Google (GOOG) staffers, such as Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor. The other ex-Google co-founders of FriendFeed are Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh.

Benchmark Capital and angel investors had put about $5 million into the start-up, which had been a darling among the digerati.

Despite that, the start-up only broke one million unique visitors recently, according to several reports, while San Francisco-based Twitter was reported to have upward of 44 million in June.

But FriendFeed will surely get a turbocharge from its Facebook ownership, especially as its technology is fed to its 250 million users.

While Facebook–which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.–has added some of the same functionality that FriendFeed has innovated into its famous News Feed, it will surely get its own boost from adding FriendFeed’s dozen employees, 11 of whom are engineers.

Terms were not disclosed, but the purchase price is likely well under the $500 million Facebook offered Twitter last fall.

In fact, sources estimate to me that the price was about $50 million in cash and stock for the company, which was founded in 2007.

It is also unclear what will happen to the standalone FriendFeed service in the long run, although Taylor said in an uber-cute blog post (see below) that it would remain intact for now.

This move, although prominently unmentioned by Facebook in its full press release below, is most certainly a shot across Twitter’s bow.

Here’s the official word from Facebook, as well as that blog post by FriendFeed’s Taylor about the acquisition:

Facebook Agrees to Acquire Sharing Service FriendFeed

PALO ALTO, CALIF.–August 10, 2009–Facebook today announced that it has agreed to acquire FriendFeed, the innovative service for sharing online. As part of the agreement, all FriendFeed employees will join Facebook and FriendFeed’s four founders will hold senior roles on Facebook’s engineering and product teams.

“Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends,” said Bret Taylor, a FriendFeed co-founder and, previously, the group product manager who launched Google Maps. “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.”

“As we spent time with Mark and his leadership team, we were impressed by the open, creative culture they’ve built and their desire to have us contribute to it,” said Paul Buchheit, another FriendFeed co-founder. Buchheit, the Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto, added, “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.”

Taylor and Buchheit founded FriendFeed along with Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh in October 2007 after all four played key roles at Google for products like Gmail and Google Maps. At FriendFeed, they’ve brought together a world-class team of engineers and designers.

“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.”

FriendFeed is based in Mountain View, Calif. and has 12 employees. FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being as the teams determine the longer term plans for the product.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not released.”

FriendFeed accepts Facebook friend request

We are happy to announce that Facebook has acquired FriendFeed. As my mom explained to me, when two companies love each other very much, they form a structured investment vehicle…

The FriendFeed team is extremely excited to become a part of the talented Facebook team. We’ve always been great admirers of Facebook, and our companies share a common vision. Now we have the opportunity to bring many of the innovations we’ve developed at FriendFeed to Facebook’s 250 million users around the world and to work alongside Facebook’s passionate engineers to create even more ways for you to easily share with your friends online.

What does this mean for my FriendFeed account?

FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being. We’re still figuring out our longer-term plans for the product with the Facebook team. As usual, we will communicate openly about our plans as they develop–keep an eye on the FriendFeed News group for updates.

What about the FriendFeed API?

The FriendFeed API will also continue to operate normally. As above, we will let you know as we settle on our plan to more fully integrate with Facebook.

Check out the official press release for more information.