FriendFeed, the site that gathers all the activities your friends are doing on more than 30 social networking sites into a handy news feed format, announced that they are getting extra friendly with Facebook today. “We are happy to announce that Facebook has acquired FriendFeed,” wrote Bret Taylor, FriendFeed’s co-founder on the site’s official blog. “As my mom explained to me, when two companies love each other very much, they form a structured investment vehicle.”
With FriendFeed, users can create a kind of social headquarters for their friends, viewing all the content their network has recently shared—from digging a news article on Digg, to posting a photo to Flickr, to commenting on a video on YouTube, even watching a movie on Netflix. There are similar sharing features on Facebook, but FriendFeed’s beats the behemoth’s on real-time capabilities.
“Since I first tried FriendFeed, I’ve admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, in a statement. “As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use.”
Tech bloggers have noted that Facebook has had its eye on the tiny FriendFeed for quite some time—even taking a cue from some of their features. As The Observer reported in March, FriendFeed was a site that pioneered the “like” feature a whole year before Facebook jumped on the bandwagon in February. Knowing what people “like,” along with all of the other detailed information Facebook and FriendFeed have on their users, is a powerful asset. They might be able to using that data to not only cater their users’ homepage, but also be more attractive to advertisers. At the time, Mr. Taylor said their “like” feature format allowed people to share more information with each other.
“We really wanted it to be a social mechanism,” Mr. Taylor told The Observer. “It’s not bookmarking it for yourself. It’s not voting for it to get on the front page of a news site or something. You’re liking it so you can tell your friends that you found it interesting. I think, as a broad vision, it’s about content discovery.”
As for how FriendFeed will help Facebook with content discovery and other pursuits, like competing with Twitter for real-time sharing, neither company is releasing many details. Mr. Taylor wrote in his announcement that the site will operate “normally” for now. “We’re still figuring out our longer-term plans for the product with the Facebook team,” he wrote. “As usual, we will communicate openly about our plans as they develop—keep an eye on the FriendFeed News group for updates.”
FriendFeed has made its name on being a social networking underdog to Twitter and Facebook. So far, their users seem to have mixed feelings about the decision, as Read Write Web noted, fearing spambots and Facebook gobbling up FriendFeed into oblivion.
Some might wonder if FriendFeed co-founder Mr. Buchheit, a former Google engineer behind Gmail and the originator of Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto, will have to come up with a similar mantra for Facebook.