Should we be surprised that Facebook yesterday announced it was to buy start up social media aggregator FriendFeed? Probably not. By buying FriendFeed Mark Zuckerberg is acknowledging that in many ways Twitter has stolen a march on Facebook and that the uber social networking site needs to catch up.
“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, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook. “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.”
So what does Facebook get from the deal?
1 Value for money – We don’t know how much money changed hands but FriendFeed is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying Twitter.
2 It gets an opportunity to set its sights on Google’s search business – By aggregating Twitter and Facebook feeds together Facebook could develop a product that enables users to search social media in real time. Google does map Twitter, but tends to take hours, or even days to archive tweets. With FriendFeed on board Facebook could develop a real time search system that aggregated all social media. That could be hugely powerful and popular.
3 One million users – FriendFeed is popular but not that popular. The start up, which is over a year old has, attracted one million users. At the top end are every evangelical supporters like Robert Scoble. There are many users however like myself who signed up but have barely used the service. For me it does aggregate content on Facebook, which is useful, but hardly essential.
4 Some really great engineers – FriendFeed was founded by four ex Google employees Paul Buchheit, Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, and Sanjeev Singh whose expertise will be invaluable to Facebook in the coming months.
5 A chance to develop a more compelling micro blogging system than Twitter – There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that Twitter is more popular with older generations than it is with the kids, many of whom are still much more addicted to Facebook and even Bebo. FriendFeed will enable Facebook to develop more micro blogging/aggregation style facilities which will give its younger users even more reasons to stay with Facebook rather than experiment with other micro blogging options