Facebook Rivals Google on Talent Buys in 2011

Yesterday we reported that Gowalla CEO Josh Williams had neither confirmed nor denied that their company was acquired by Facebook, but later the rumors were finally laid to rest.

Facebook released the following statement via e-mail to AllFacebook:

“We’re excited to confirm that Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other members of the Gowalla team, are moving to Facebook in January to join our design and engineering teams. In talking with the Gowalla team, we realized that we share many of the same goals: building great products that reach millions of people, making a big impact quickly, and creating new ways for people to connect and share what’s going on in their lives. While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time.”

So if you didn’t get that, Facebook’s statement clearly says that they did not actually acquire Gowalla’s service and technology, they hired the talents behind Gowalla.  In short, Gowalla will cease to exist but the people (some of them, at least) will be relocating from their Austin, Texas headquarters to Facebook’s HQ in California.

If you check out Gowalla’s page now, you will be greeted by William’s post relaying information how the company started and it’s future.  The following statement is just a part of William’s post:

“About two months ago, my co-founder Scott and I attended F8. 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. So we’re excited to announce that we’ll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!”

“Gowalla, as a service, will be winding down at the end of January. We plan to provide an easy way to export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with your legacy Item data), and your photos as well. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla’s user data.”

“We know how much many of you loved Gowalla. It’s been the highlight of our lives as we’ve built it with your help over the past two years. As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla — a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go — will live on at Facebook.”

As mentioned in our earlier report, Facebook is expanding and they are looking to hire more people in their New York HQ for 2012 as well.  The financial terms of the Gowalla deal were not disclosed and it is not yet clear where the talents from Gowalla will be placed in Facebook’s ecosystem.  Facebook used to offer a service called Places which lets users check-in, but it was discontinued, as users can now include their location in their posts.  The Gowalla team could be put to work to revive the service, or bring something better.  But since Gowalla transitioned from a service akin to Foursquare to a social travel guide, it is presumed that they will be playing a major role in Facebook’s Timeline, which until now, hasn’t really been available for everyone to use or excperience.

This year, Facebook had been busy shopping for talent and technology, like when they acquired mobile-phone applications developer Strobe Corp., file-sharing service Drop.io and content-publishing technology developer Chai Labs.  They also acquired mobile advertising outfit Rel8tion, group messenger Beluga, mobile app developer Snaptu, software designers Sofa and email distiller Mail Rank.