Web & communication software

Facebook buys FriendFeed

Facebook on Monday said it has agreed to purchase FriendFeed, a social-networking site that lets people share information and media files on the Web in real time.

The companies, both private, did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. FriendFeed and Facebook already had a relationship in which Facebook users could access the FriendFeed application from within their Facebook profiles.

FriendFeed was founded in 2007 by four former Google employees, including Paul Buchheit, the engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s now-infamous “Don’t be evil” motto, and Bret Taylor, a former group product manager who launched Google Maps.

The two companies share a common mission in that they allow people to interact on the Web by sharing information—including links, photos and videos—for discussion among a group of online friends. Facebook has some of the capabilities of FriendFeed but is not limited to them, so it's unclear exactly how the two services will be integrated.

Asked in an interview Monday what capabilities FriendFeed will bring to Facebook that it doesn’t already have, neither Buchheit nor Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, could provide an answer.

In fact, both said it was the companies’ overlapping features and shared ideas for how people should communicate and share personal information with friends that spurred the merger.

“This isn’t filling a niche for us,” Schroepfer said. “It’s about us coming together to jointly work on our shared vision to help people share and communicate on the Web, and share their personal identity and community as they communicate with people around the world.”

He added that Facebook also has great respect for the team behind FriendFeed and wanted to bring them on board.

Buchheit said that while the two companies started from different places, as their products evolved, the FriendFeed team realized there was “a tremendous opportunity for us to bring everything we’ve learned with FriendFeed to the Facebook community.”

Indeed, Facebook did not have the breadth of real-time sharing activities when it started that it does now, and Schroepfer said the companies’ engineers are “longtime friends and admirers” who borrowed features from each other.

FriendFeed’s 12 employees will continue to work in its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and the site will continue to operate as usual until the companies decide on a long-term integration plan, according to the companies. Facebook based in nearby Palo Alto.

Updated at 3:28 p.m. PT to include comments from Facebook executives.

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