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Facebook snatches up Parakey

Popular social-networking site makes its first buy: Parakey, a Web start-up created by Firefox's co-founders.

Facebook on Thursday made its first acquisition. The social-networking site bought a Web start-up called Parakey.

Parakey was started by Firefox's two founders, Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt. The site gives this description of the service: "Computers are frustrating. Creating documents, finding files, sharing information--why do everyday things still seem so tedious and counterintuitive? We hope that Parakey will make your life easier."

According to Inside Facebook, "Parakey is intended to be a platform for tools that can manipulate just about anything on your hard drive: e-mail, photos, videos, recipes, calendars."

What is Facebook planning on doing with a start-up that specializes in integrating online services with local machines? Facebook's press release says the company will be working on the development of its Facebook Platform as well as its Web site.

I would have to say that Parakey will be bringing something fresh to Facebook Platform; otherwise, there would have been no need for this acquisition. Facebook's developers could have continued to work on it. Tight integration with local content on your computer and offline access to some Facebook services seem likely here.

There are a few things that come to mind when I think about this. The obvious one is, of course, integration between Facebook Events and desktop calendar applications such as iCal and Outlook. A couple of the other things in the list of what Parakey can manipulate (photos and videos) match up with what Facebook is doing right now as well. Although these are good possibilities of what Facebook may do with this acquisition, it's really anyone's guess at this point, especially since nobody has yet really seen Parakey in action.

Details of the money exchanged in the acquisition have not yet surfaced. As more information about how Facebook will be using Parakey's developers and technologies becomes apparent, I'll do a follow-up on this. This news begs the question of what the odds are that Facebook is going down the road to an IPO.