The Year in Facebook Acquisitions 2011

Facebook’s acquisitions in 2011 suggest a strong focus on mobile technology and talent, as seven of the 14 startups acquired this year had previously been working on mobile ventures.

In September, Facebook announced it had 350 million monthly active users accessing its services through mobile devices. This was 100 million more than it had said were active on mobile in March. As the social network introduced a mobile app platform to third-party developers in October, we expect it to continue to build its expertise in this area next year.

Rel8tion – January

The stealth hyper-local mobile advertising startup was acquired and brought into Facebook’s Seattle office. The social network hasn’t yet announced plans to bring ads to its mobile experience, but there have been reports that this could happen before Spring 2012.

Pursuit – February

Facebook hired two of the three founders of this professional network startup that helps employers promote job openings by using their employees’ social networks. So far we haven’t seen Facebook add more professional networking tools, though there are several third-party job apps growing on the platform.

Beluga – March

Five months after Facebook acquired this group messaging startup, the social network released a standalone messaging app that has been one of iOS’ top free apps since it debuted. The success of Messenger could encourage Facebook to develop more standalone apps, for instance one for quick photo-sharing.

Snaptu – March

After partnering with the Israeli startup earlier in the year to bring the app to 2,500 different kinds of mobile devices, Facebook brought the team on presumably to continue to build smartphone-like experiences on basic feature phones.

Recrec – April

This was a talent acquisition, rather than a a traditional acquisition, but most of the founding team of Dogpatch Labs-incubated startup Recrec joined Facebook. Recrec had been developing technology that automatically converted images into HTML and CSS.

Daytum – April

When Facebook hired the two founders of this New York-based startup, we suggested the new employees could help the social network track and visualize activity such as photo uploads, checkins or wall posts. As it turns out, the new monthly and yearly summary boxes on Timeline look a lot like Daytum, which lets people manually enter data such as trips to the gym, films watched or food consumed.

Sofa – June

The social network acquired this Dutch development and design startup for its talent, not its software products, which include Kaleidoscope for tracking differences in text and images, Versions for code version control, and ecommerce platform Enstore.

Push Pop Press – August

Facebook bought digital book software company Push Pop Press, whose cofounders, designer Mike Matas and engineer Kimon Tsinteris, were former Apple employees. They left to launch Push Pop, which was used by Al Gore in his global warming iPad book “Our Choice,” which won one of Apple’s Design Awards.

friend.ly – October

Facebook acquired Silicon Valley startup friend.ly, which developed a Facebook-integrated website that let users get to know their friends better by asking them questions about their interests. Friend.ly pulled a user’s Likes and the Likes of their friends, and then suggested relevant questions to ask.

Digital Staircase – November

Facebook fueled speculation about a possible standalone photo-sharing app when it acquired Digital Staircase, maker of a handful of photo and video editing apps, including MovieCam.

Strobe – November

Facebook announced its second mobile talent acquisition in two days when the company bought Strobe, the maker of a platform supporting mobile web apps that can work on multiple devices and operating systems like iOS and Android.

MailRank – November

The social network picked up two former directors of engineering of Second Life-maker Linden Lab in a talent acquisition of MailRank this fall. It did not provide details about what the pair would be working on.

WhoGlue – November

Unlike others, this acquisition was not for talent. Facebook bought Baltimore-based social networking software firm WhoGlue Inc, a company it had sued for patent infringement two years ago. The renamed WhoGlue LLC continues to develop private social networks for its clients.

Gowalla – December

Most recently, Facebook brought Austin-based Gowalla co-founders and other key team members to Palo Alto to work on product and engineering. The social network did not acquire Gowalla technology. The location-based service will be closing sometime in January, according to a blog post by co-founder Josh Williams.


Image credit: Gowalla

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