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8/10/2009
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Facebook To Buy FriendFeed

FriendFeed's management team includes former Google developers who helped launch Gmail and Google Maps.

Facebook agreed to buy social-media aggregator FriendFeed, acquiring an executive team that includes former Google stars who helped launch Gmail and Google Maps.

In announcing the acquisition Monday, Facebook did not disclose financial details or say how it planned to use FriendFeed's service or its technology. However, Facebook did highlight the company's executive team, including Paul Buchheit who was the creator and lead developer of Gmail. Buccheit also developed Google's early advertising products that proved very lucrative and is credited with coining the company's motto, "Don't be evil."

Other members of the all-start team agreeing to join Facebook are Bret Taylor, formerly the group product manager who launched Google Maps, and Jim Norris and Sanjeev Singh, who also worked on Gmail and Maps. Buccheit, Taylor, Norris and Singh, all co-founders of FriendFeed, will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams.

"Since I first tried FriendFeed, I've admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information," Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, said in a statement.

In addition to executive talent, FriendFeed will bring a subscriber base filed with social media power users who are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other sites and are using FriendFeed to share content from all these sites.

"The acquisition is partly about technology, partly about the talent pool and also about the community of thought leaders in social media," Ray Valdes, analyst for Gartner, told InformationWeek.

From a technology standpoint, FriendFeed does not have a "magic bullet" that nobody else has, Valdes said. However, the site would provide Facebook with better technology for expanding Facebook's initiative to open up the site for sharing content with other social networks.

"Facebook has been moving in that direction, but FriendFeed has been pushing from the outset in that direction," Valdes said.

Founded in October 2007, Mountain View, Calif.-based FriendFeed has 12 employees. Facebook said it plans to have the company operate as usual "for the time being as the team determine the longer term plans for the product."

Facebook in April was the eighth-most-visited property on the Web, attracting 67.5 million visitors, according to Web metrics firm ComScore.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).

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