Facebook kicks off holidays with Gifts expansion

The social network continues its quest for e-commerce dollars with new Facebook Gifts partnerships.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Donna Tam
Shara Tibken
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Lee Linden, head of product for Facebook Gifts, on deck at FAO Schwarz in New York. Roger Cheng/CNET

Facebook made a big commercial splash in New York City this evening, announcing several new partnerships for its gifting service in time for the holiday shopping season.

The social network wanted to create some buzz and used a press event at the FAO Schwarz in New York today to highlight the new retailers coming on board for Facebook Gifts.

"Facebook gifts is a combination of real moments with real gifts," Lee Linden, head of product for Gifts, told the room of reporters.

Linden told CNET that the new gifts will be available throughout the U.S. in the next few weeks.

The new retail partners include tech companies Hulu, Pandora, and Rdio.

Other new partners are Fab, Brookstone, Dean & Deluca, L'Occitane, Lindt, ProFlowers, Random House, NARS Cosmetics, and Baby Gap. Facebook also said it will start selling wine -- from Robert Mondavi Winery and Chandon Winery -- in a few weeks.


Jim Speltz, chief operating officer of Brookstone, one of new retail partners, said the company decided to offer about 20 lower-priced gifts through the program, and it will likely soon offer a "handful" of premium products. He said Facebook users are more likely to be interested in tech and wellness products.

"Facebook's user base is more forward thinking," Speltz said.

Linden said there are now hundreds of retailers on Gifts selling thousands of gifts, and it's not just about gifting during the holidays. He wants people to use gifts everyday, which is why the network modified news feeds to highlight important events like birthdays.

"People use Facebook to connect...gifts is a natural extension, and we want to make it easier," he said.

Launched at the end of September with about 100 merchants, the gifting service lets users buy and send gifts right off friends' Timelines and Facebook takes a cut. Lee wouldn't say what percentage of each sale Facebook receives for each gift, nor would he say whether or not Facebook takes a percentage for its recently added charitable donation gifts.

The company recently added alerts on Androidand iOS devices that tell you about friends' birthdays by serving up a link to Gifts.

While this is in early days, it's potentially important as Facebook seeks ways to make money other than from advertising. The social network said it plans to unveil even more retail partners in the coming weeks.

Update, 6:17 p.m. PT: Updated with more information.