Facebook hires Gowalla team, but will shut the service

Facebook said it was not acquiring the Gowalla service or technology

Facebook has hired the team at Gowalla, a mobile location service in Austin, Texas, but the service will be shut down by January, the companies said Monday.

Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond attended Facebook's f8 conference for developers and entrepreneurs in September, and they were "blown away by Facebook's new developments".

"A few weeks later Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together," Williams said in a blog post on Monday.

"So we're excited to announce that we'll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!," Williams said.

Facebook confirmed that the co-founders and other members of the Gowalla team are moving to Facebook in January to join its design and engineering teams.

Facebook isn't taking on the Gowalla service or technology, the company said in a statement. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Gowalla service lets people share with friends information on the locations they are in, including through photos taken on their mobile phones. "The Gowalla Passport has become a record of all the places we've visited, the people we were with, the photos we took, and the stories we told," Williams said.

Gowalla, as a service, will however be winding down at the end of January. "We plan to provide an easy way to export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with your legacy Item data), and your photos as well," Williams said. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data, he added.

Facebook said in its statement that after talking with the Gowalla team, it realized that it shared many of the same goals, such as "building great products that reach millions of people, making a big impact quickly, and creating new ways for people to connect and share what's going on in their lives".

Facebook however declined to comment on whether the products the Gowalla team would work on would be similar to the offering at their previous venture.

Tags business issuespersonnelInternet-based applications and servicessocial networkinginternetGowallamobileFacebookmobile applications

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service

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