Gowalla confirms: Facebook acquires location-based social network

Facebook has acquired location-based social network Gowalla, the latter company has confirmed. Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data; it seems to only be interested in the employees.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

A rumor late last week suggested Facebook had acquired the location sharing service Gowalla for an undisclosed sum. Gowalla has now confirmed the deal, and added a few details.

"About two months ago, my co-founder Scott and I attended F8," co-founder Josh Williams said in a statement. "We 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. So we're excited to announce that we'll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!"

The Gowalla service will be "winding down" at the end of January 2012; a specific kill date has not yet been announced. If you're a Gowalla user, you should be aware the company plans to let you export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with legacy Item data), and your photos. Most importantly, Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data: this appears to be an acquisition just for talent as previously speculated.

Austin-based Gowalla launched in 2007, but lost the battle to its direct competitor: Foursquare. The company recently tried to reinvent itself as a travel guide. Most of Gowalla's employees, including Williams, are expected to move to Facebook's offices in Palo Alto, while the rest will stay in Austin and work out of Facebook's local office there. The team will work on Facebook's Timeline feature, which was unveiled three months ago at the company's 2011 f8 developer conference.

Timeline was supposed to launch within weeks of f8 but Facebook is making a point not to rush anything. It will start gradually rolling out Timeline to its 800 million monthly active users when it's ready, though it still hasn't announced a launch date.

Four months ago, Facebook decided to kill Facebook Places. At the same time though, Palo Alto added a lot more location features to its social network. Although it phased out the mobile-only Facebook Places, it started letting users add their current location to anything (status update, photo, or Wall post), from anywhere (regardless of what device you are using). Gowalla employees are being brought on to help with this vision.

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