Rumor: Facebook acquires Gowalla
Social media giant Facebook is reportedly buying Austin-based Gowalla, a location-based social networking site, according to CNNMoney.india Updated: Dec 03, 2011 12:51 IST
Social media giant Facebook is reportedly buying Austin-based Gowalla, a location-based social networking site, according to CNNMoney.
The report, which cites unnamed sources, said most of Gowalla's employees, about 32, including founder Josh Williams, will move to Palo Alto, Calif., to help Facebook bolster its Timeline feature. A small number of them will stay in Austin and be housed at Facebook's downtown offices on West Sixth Street, the report said.
Neither company publicly disclosed the deal, nor a purchase price has been disclosed."We do not comment on rumors or speculation," a Gowalla spokeswoman said Friday night.Facebook officials also did not respond to a request for comment.
When it was launched in 2009 at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference and Festival, Gowalla allowed users to "check in" on smartphones at their current locations and broadcast their whereabouts to friends.
In September, Gowalla moved away from that focus to emphasize social guides and its partnerships with companies such as Disney, where it provided location services at Disney parks.Rival Foursquare, a New York-based social-networking check-in site, also launched at South by Southwest in 2009, has long overshadowed it.
According to CNN, most of the local team, including CEO Josh Williams, will move to Palo Alto to help Facebook develop their new Timelinefeature. Despite raising millions in recent years, Gowalla wasn't able to knock rival FourSquare out of the ring, and has recently redressed itself as more of a discovery tool rather than a simple check-in service.
An unidentified Gowalla insider reported, "It's a perfect match. As far as the big picture, Gowalla's vision is about people telling stories, and Facebook's vision for Timeline is about stories about important moments in life." Maybe so, but by connecting with Facebook, it feels like the purchase is more of a bid to re-ignite competition with FourSquare. Especially considering Facebook's seeming impotence in the check-in world. By combining check-ins with a more robust day-in-the-life timeline application, Facebook positions itself as a more powerful option for users willing to set aside a certain amount of privacy in order to document their lives.
Does any of this mean something special for Gowalla? It remains to be seen, but the purchase -- whatever the amount -- might be a cause for celebration for the fledgling business.
Gowalla had about 2 million users in September, compared with Foursquare's 10 million.
First Published: Dec 03, 2011 12:49 IST