Surprise news last night was Facebookâ€™s acquisition of Friendfeed.
Facebook â€“ a giant among social networks â€“ has grabbed the comparatively-tiny Friendfeed content-sharing service (which has just 12 employees) as the means to accelerate Facebookâ€™s product development plans, according to some opinion in Silicon Valley.
The most interesting interview, though, comes in a conversation between Robert Scoble â€“ consistently Friendfeedâ€™s most outspoken evangelist â€“ Friendfeed co-founder Paul Buchheit and Facebook VP of Engineering Mike Schroepfer, recorded on BlogTalk Radioâ€™s Cinch (I tried this service earlier this year: itâ€™s not bad at all) and published to Scobleâ€™s Friendfeed account (where else?) at about 9.30pm UK time yesterday.
Thereâ€™s nothing dramatic in the 5-minute informal and unscripted conversation â€“ this is not your usual kind of slick mainstream media interview â€“ nor is there anything much different to what others connected with the acquisition have said publicly:
- Facebook likes Friendfeed
- Facebook has great products and long-term plans
- We had no need to sell the company, we could have continued for a number of years, but we recognized this was a tremendous opportunity
- Weâ€™re committed to the Friendfeed service long term
- Too early to speculate on what weâ€™re going to do in the short term
- The service will continue running
- We think itâ€™s the right thing for the Friendfeed team and for the users
- No, weâ€™re not going to talk about the financial aspects of the deal (but the Wall Street Journal has the numbers: they say Facebook paid nearly $50 million for Friendfeed in a combination cash and stock offer)
Iâ€™d agree with those who see this acquisition as a milestone event, an element in the evolving state of how we connect with other people online, form communities and the means we use to do that.
Well, as a Friendfeed user myself since early 2008, my immediate reaction when I heard the news was, â€œOh no, there goes the neighbourhood!â€
I like Friendfeedâ€™s openness and the fact you can engage with people there much like you do via Twitter: highly informally, sharing links and comments without the pressures to join groups, give or receive gifts, and all the proactive social things I generally find too intrusive in Facebook when all I really wish to do is share content links and talk informally about things of common interest where everything is linkable and shareable on the public web â€“ no walled garden.
And I wonder what will happen to one of Friendfeedâ€™s best feature: Rooms. For the FIR podcast, we have a room â€“ the FIR Room on Friendfeed â€“ that currently has over 280 members. It a place the community prefers over other places, eg, the FIR group on Facebook we started way back. Nothing goes on there: it all happens on Friendfeed.
But everyoneâ€™s different and what may appeal to me about Friendfeed and Facebook may be partly or entirely different for you: one of the great things about freedoms of choice.
Still, Iâ€™m not going to make judgements or concrete opinions about anything until it becomes clearer what may happen. As the guys said in Scobleâ€™s interview, thereâ€™s little point in speculating on what theyâ€™re going to do in the short term.
I just hope the evolution is â€œFriendbookâ€ rather than â€œFacefeed.â€