The Year in Facebook Acquisitions 2012
Facebook bought or “acqui-hired” more than a dozen companies this year, including Instagram, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Like last year, bringing on mobile talent was clearly a focus for the social network in 2012.
In addition to the $521 million it spent on Instagram, the company reported spending $87 million on other business acquisitions between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. Information about the rest of the year won’t be available until the company’s Q4 earnings are released. In 2011, Facebook spent only $68 million on a similar number of acquisitions.
Below we’ll review this year’s acquisitions and acqui-hires. We also looked to Facebook’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for hints on what the social network paid companies in stock.
Facebook acqui-hired a co-founder of viral brand marketing agency Momentus Media, which was behind campaigns for Levi’s, LMFAO and Taio Cruz. Chris Turitzin joined the Facebook growth, engagement and mobile team while Momentus itself continues on under co-founder Carina Koo. The company grew out of the Facebook’s original fbFund, which was backed by Accel Partners and Founders Fund and run by super-angel Dave McClure.
Facebook’s marquee acquisition was announced in April, but because of the $1-billion price tag, the deal took time to clear regulatory hurdles. With more than half the offer in shares of Facebook stock, the deal ended up being worth closer $715 million when it closed in September. The mobile photo sharing network continues to operate under the Instagram brand, but its 16 employees joined the team in Menlo Park, Calif., and Facebook now supports the app with infrastructure and engineers, among other business needs.
Just a few days after the Instagram deal was announced, Facebook acquired the team and most of the assets of Tagtile, a mobile-based customer loyalty management startup. The company created the Tagtile Cube, which merchants place at their checkout counter. When customers make a purchase in-store, they tap their smartphone against the Tagtile Cube and earn rewards. Merchants can access data from the Cube online, and use the information to target messages back to their customers. The service was shut down, and we haven’t yet seen what the Tagtile co-founders have ended up working on at Facebook.
According to regulatory documents, on the day the acquisition was announced, Facebook issued 40,000 shares of Class A common stock to four individuals in connection with its purchase of certain assets from a company, which may have been Tagtile.
In early May, Facebook acquired Glancee, an ambient mobile location app that alerts users when people with similar interests are nearby. Similar to Highlight, which was getting a lot of attention at the time, Glancee’s iPhone app let users sign in with Facebook, and then it would show users other people who have things in common with them within a certain radius. Facebook tested a Find Friends Nearby feature after a Hackathon, but this seemed to be independent from Glancee and the company never rolled it out widely.
On the day the acquisition was announced, Facebook issued 36,826 shares of Class A common stock as consideration to eight individuals in connection with its acquisition of all the outstanding shares of a company, which may have been Glancee.
Facebook hired the seven-person team behind Android photo-sharing app Lightbox. The app, which was similar to Instagram, was shut down in mid-May when the deal was announced.
Facebook acquired the mobile gifting and commerce service Karma in May on the same day it began public trading on the NASDAQ. By the end of September, the team launched Facebook Gifts, which offers similar functionality but is built into Facebook’s mobile and desktop experiences. As it enables users to buy physical and digital goods for their friends, this acquisition has the clearest opportunity for return on investment. According to regulatory filings, Facebook issued 1,099,986 shares of Class A common stock as consideration to 29 individuals and 12 entities in connection with the acquisition. At today’s share price of $26.05, that’s more than $28.6 million.
Also in May, Facebook hired the team behind the San Francisco-based user experience research and design firm, Bolt Peters. The company, co-founded by CEO Nate Bolt in 2002, had done design work for Twitter, Zynga, Pandora and dozens of other well known clients.
Facebook hired the three people behind Pieceable Viewer, which is software that allows developers to demo their iOS apps on the web. The company said its viewer would be available until Dec. 31, and an open source version would be offered to developers.
Facebook agreed to acquire facial recognition technology company Face.com in June. The Israeli company removed its apps from the App Store and shut down its APIs in July. Based on regulatory filings, Facebook seems to have granted 809,923 shares of Class A common stock to 13 individuals and 11 entities in connection with the acquisition. At today’s price of $26.05, that’s more than $21 million.
In July, Facebook hired the five-person team behind Spool, a social bookmarking service that makes web content available for offline viewing on mobile devices. Later that month, Facebook tested a new option for users to save posts in mobile and desktop News Feed for later viewing, but that project seemed to be independent from Spool and so far hasn’t rolled out widely.
In late July, Facebook hired designer and engineer Dustin MacDonald, who was behind Acrylic, a development studio that makes iOS and Mac software, including news reader Pulp and secure database app Wallet.
In August, Facebook acquired San Francisco-based Threadsy, which offered a Klout-like service called Swaylo to connect brands and influencers. Some of that product remains, including SwayloPro, which continues to operate as an independent company owned by its current investors.
Facebook hired Dwight Crow and Christopher Berner, the team behind used car price comparison site Carsabi. Notably, Crow appeared on the Bravo reality show “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley.” The Carsabi site itself was sold to social search company Ark.