Facebook buys FriendFeed: Quicker than nicking its ideas

Facebook has bought FriendFeed, the real-time content-sharing service. All of FriendFeed's best features appearing on Facebook in 5-4-3-2-1...

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

Social networking giant Facebook has swallowed up real-time content-sharing service FriendFeed for an undisclosed sum, estimated to be as much as £30m.

According to FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor, "Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends," which is a polite way of saying Facebook has been half-inching their ideas, such as the 'like' feature. "We can't wait to join the team and bring many of the innovations we've developed at FriendFeed to Facebook's 250 million users around the world," which means Facebook figured it's easier just to buy FriendFeed and nick its features directly.

Our CNET News colleague Caroline McCarthy reckons this is about talent rather than assets, with the acquisition bringing a stable of ex-Google staff into the Facebook fold. This includes Paul Buchheit, the chap who thought up Gmail and 'Don't be evil', while Taylor worked on Google Maps. Meanwhile, Josh Lowensohn has run down some of the FriendFeed features Facebook is likely to absorb. Facebook has already launched an improved search function, with improved content aggregation and tracking discussions likely to follow. The real ace up FriendFeed's sleeve is its peerless real-time search and updating, which knocks even Twitter into a cocked hat.

Buckheit posted pictures from the backyard meeting between the FriendFeed team and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on his own profile. Look at those guys: is there anything more Web 2.0 than a bunch of regular joes in t-shirts and baseball caps huddled around a MacBook as millions of dollars changes hands?

Self-described troublemaker Robert Scoble has long been a cheerleader for FriendFeed, presumably because it beats actually writing anything. The acquisition is likely to spell the end for FriendFeed -- eventually -- but seeing as compared to Facebook, no-one uses it, that's hardly the end of the world. When we asked our Twitter flock, reader DavidNicholas summed up our feelings: "Since I never got around to trying FriendFeed but was aware of its good features, I look forward to seeing them implemented into FB."

That said, recent changes to Facebook to open up the walled garden and focus on sharing and update feeds met with some resistance from its massive user base. Let us know in the comments if you're happy with Facebook the way it is, or whether you'll welcome the coming changes. Check out the rest of our Facebook coverage here.