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7/20/2007
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Facebook Makes First Acquisition In Startup Parakey

Parakey is a stealth startup co-founded by Firefox co-creators Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt that aims to sync content on a Web site with content on a PC.

Social networking site Facebook made its first acquisition Thursday by snatching up Parakey, a stealth startup co-founded by Firefox co-creators Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt, for an undisclosed amount.

Ross and Hewitt have generally maintained a cloak of secrecy over their plans with Parakey, which they founded in 2006. But Facebook describes it as "a platform bridging the gap between information on the Web and the desktop." Parakey's own stripped-down Web site hints the company wants to make "creating documents, finding files, [and] sharing information" easier tasks.

Ross didn't respond to requests for comment in time for this article. However, in an interview with IEEE Spectrum last year, he described Parakey as a Web-based platform to synchronize content on a computer with content on a Web site in order to store, manipulate, and share multiple types of information online. Ross also said Parakey would be open source, though its not clear how the Facebook acquisition affects that plan.

Parakey's aims gel well with Facebook, which has designs on moving beyond social networking to become a computing platform. The company opened up the site to third-party extensions in May and since then has seen millions of Facebook applications downloaded and installed for tasks like sharing music preferences, video sharing, online calendaring, and even e-mail. Parakay may help Facebook move toward that goal.

In Ross and Hewitt, Facebook also gains two sharp minds who helped develop an open source Web browser that has gained share against Microsoft Internet Explorer during the past few years. "Facebook Platform is finally making it easy to share experiences with friends and family over the Web, a goal Joe and I have worked toward for years," Ross says in a statement. "We are thrilled to join the most innovative technology company in the industry."

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