Google buys virtual-currency start-up

Tech giant is adding to its social-media arsenal with the acquisition of Jambool, which helps other sites build virtual-currency infrastructures.

Google has purchased a virtual-currency software company called Jambool, adding to its social-networking stable.

Jambool's founders, Chief Executive Officer Vikas Gupta and Chief Technology Officer Reza Hussein, announced the deal Friday on the company's Web site. Terms of the deal were not revealed, but earlier reports about a possible deal were offering estimates of about $70 million.

Jambool's Social Gold

"When the opportunity arose to join forces with Google to execute against this vision, we couldn't pass it up," their statement said. "We are thrilled to bring the Social Gold platform to Google's global users."

Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Launched in 2006, the start-up manufactures a product called Social Gold, which lets other sites build virtual-currency infrastructures. Google runs its own PayPal-like transaction platform, Google Checkout, and may have been looking for a virtual-currency system to complement it.

The announcement comes a week after Google confirmed that it had acquired Slide, a social-media company founded by PayPal veteran Max Levchin.

The tech giant, in the midst of pumping up its social-media muscle, is rumored to be fine-tuning its social-gaming strategy, one of the biggest runaway successes to emerge on Facebook. Google has invested in social-gaming giant Zynga and may be working on a full-fledged gaming product of its own.

Social-gaming publishers brought in $490 million in revenue last year and that figure is expected to reach $835 million in 2010, according to Inside Social Games analyst Justin Smith.

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