Facebook location services: Boost with Gowalla acquisition

06/12/2011

Facebook location services have been given a boost this week, as the social network has reportedly snapped up Foursquare-rival Gowalla, an online location-sharing service, for an undisclosed sum. The report, from CNNMoney attributed the development to “a source close to Gowalla” and mentioned that most of Gowalla’s employees will move to Facebook’s offices in Palo Alto. The team will work on Facebook’s Timeline feature. The deal will see the Texas-based firm relocate the majority of its staff to social network's Silicon Valley HQ.

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Facebook has so far declined to comment. However, Josh Williams, the founder and chief executive of Gowalla, did not deny the deal was going through in an email to US technology blog AllThingsD.

He wrote: “The ink on the deal is not dry, so our holding pattern is that we do not comment on rumours and speculation. I have another email penned that was ready to send you today, assuming you would get this news before the story was officially released. But now it is all over Twitter, so you have likely heard. A longer email will be sent soon.”

Gowalla has raised about $10 million from investors and has recently tried to recast itself as a travel guide.

The company, which began as a check-in app, chose to push check-ins to a secondary function of its service.

Gowalla decided to allow users to create “stories” around their experiences, grouping together photos and comments from different users who are interacting at the same location.

Facebook location services will be given a boost, following the companies decision to remove its Places feature earlier this year for a more unified approached to geo-targetting. When it launched last year, Facebook Places was presented as a potential Foursquare-killer, bringing the idea of mobile check-ins to Facebook's several hundred million users.

Now it seems location will take a broader role in what people share on the social network. For now, it is unclear what this means for the location-based Facebook Deals service, which was based on Facebook Places.

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