Google rumored to buy virtual-currency start-up

Jambool, the manufacturer of a product called Social Gold, is said to have been purchased for a total of about $70 million, according to a blog report.

A report Monday on TechCrunch suggests that, complementing its purchase last week of social-app manufacturer Slide , Google has made another social-networking buy: a virtual-currency software company called Jambool. The start-up manufactures a product called Social Gold, which lets other sites build virtual-currency infrastructures.

A smaller purchase than Slide, TechCrunch put the price tag at about $70 million. Representatives from Jambool were not immediately available for comment.

Jambool's Social Gold was one of a number of virtual-currency start-ups that rose in the time in between the launch of Facebook's developer platform and its unveiling of its own transaction system, Facebook Credits . With Facebook now expanding the Credits system and potentially snuffing out third-party virtual-currency providers--it's been gradually winning over the most powerful social-game manufacturers on its developer platform--many of those start-ups are undoubtedly hunting for exit strategies.

Jambool's executive team had been openly critical of Facebook's e-commerce ambitions in the past.

Google runs its own PayPal-like transaction platform, Google Checkout, and may have been looking for a virtual-currency system to complement it. The tech giant, in the midst of cobbling together a social-media arsenal that won't flop like several of its past social-media projects have, is rumored to be fine-tuning that strategy toward social gaming, one of the biggest runaway successes to emerge on Facebook. It's invested a hefty amount in Zynga, the biggest social-gaming company , and may or may not be working on a full-fledged gaming product of its own.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.


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