Is Facebook Acquisition of FriendFeed Really a Talent Grab?

In a move with major ramifications throughout the social media network industry, Facebook announced on Monday that it has acquired FriendFeed, the online activity aggregator that combines news updates from major social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Flickr into one feed.

While FriendFeed has received significant hype in the tech community, it failed to gain a strong foothold with the general public. As Mashable.com notes, their traffic numbers have remained stagnant while the popularity of Twitter and Facebook have exploded, suggesting that the FriendFeed founders decided now is a nice time to sell out.

In fact, CNET.com speculates that this was primarily an acquisition of FriendFeed’s talent, fitting with Facebook’s past modus operandi. Of particular interest would be co-founders Bret Taylor, who was the product manager who launched Google Maps and Paul Buchheit, the engineer who developed Gmail.

In fact, there is significant overlap between FriendFeed and some of the recent additions to the Facebook service, raising questions about the long-term viability of FriendFeed as a standalone product. Taylor’s quote that “FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being. We’re still figuring out our longer-term plans for the product with the Facebook team” did little to quell speculation that the end of FriendFeed as a product may be near.

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