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By most accounts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg really likes Twitter. And as the 20-something CEO of a company that has raised over $750m, it's only natural that he'd want it,  literally. There's just one problem: when Facebook tried acquiring Twitter earlier in the year, it was turned down. The reason: Twitter didn't buy into the $15bn valuation Facebook was basing its share price on as part of the proposed deal.

So Facebook has finally done what many do when rejected: you settle for your second choice. And it this case, that means FriendFeed, which it acquired yesterday.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Wall Street Journal's sources peg the value of the deal at around $50m, $15m of which is being paid in cash and the rest in Facebook stock. Based on the recent $6.5bn valuation Facebook received from its Russian investors, FriendFeed's Facebook shares, according to the WSJ sources, are worth approximately $32.5m.

For those asking "Friend who?", FriendFeed is a real-time-oriented service that has won fanfare in Silicon Valley but has failed to attract the same sort of mainstream attention Twitter has. Think of it as Twitter's less-popular little brother.

As part of the acquisition, FriendFeed's founders will join Facebook in senior engineering and product development roles. The rest of FriendFeed's 12 employees will also join the Facebook family. According to the official press release and a post on the FriendFeed blog, it will continue to operate as a standalone site while Facebook decides on its future plans, which will ostensibly include some sort of integration of FriendFeed's functionality into the Facebook experience.

On the surface, this looks like one of those deals that isn't really necessary. There isn't any obvious proprietary technology that FriendFeed has and Facebook certainly doesn't lack the engineering resources to develop just about any feature FriendFeed has that it wants. Ostensibly it'd be easier for Facebook to develop in-house than integrate a third-party's code. So what is this really about?

In my opinion, Facebook and FriendFeed may be kindred spirits, albeit for different reasons. Both companies have paid a lot of attention to Twitter. In the case of FriendFeed, the focus on Twitter was somewhat natural. Although FriendFeed started out with some tangible differences, for better or worse, it has always been compared to Twitter. So over time, it has morphed into a service more closely resembling Twitter. While I've personally questioned the wisdom of this, ignoring Twitter was apparently something easier said than done for FriendFeed. And given that the company has found an exit, it's hard to argue with its decision.

In the case of Facebook, the focus on Twitter has been entirely voluntary. Mark Zuckerberg loves real-time and as many have reported, what he says, goes at Facebook. Hence it's no surprise that 'the stream' has become so important at Facebook and Facebook's recent facelift drew comparisons to Twitter. Of course, Facebook, with more than 250m registered users and gobs of traffic, never had to circle around and compete with Twitter but that's a moot point now.

So here we are. Facebook, which has chosen to emulate Twitter, purchases a company that felt it had no choice but to emulate Twitter. For the deal to work, 1+1 has to equal 3. Whether it will is anyone's guess.

Photo credit: topgold via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 11 August, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2391 more posts from this author

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Adi @ The Management Blog

I'm not sure Facebook are trying to emulate Twitter with this purchase.  Firstly the Twitter search functionality is still pretty poor.  Secondly the captive market on Facebook is much bigger than Twitter.  Thirdly the general public seem to get Facebook (and its status updates) much more than they get Twitter.  It will be interesting to see how it pans out for sure.

about 7 years ago

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Charlie

Perhaps Zuckerberg is just imagining that FriendFeed could take some market share or attention from FaceBook and therefore wants it in his pot? There's no reason why he might not want both FriendFeed and Twitter for this reason. Twitter says 'No' and he aquires FriendFeed, not as a runner-up or booby prize but as one half of a larger plan?

about 7 years ago

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Anonymous

Im a user of both Twitter and Facebook.  Hands down Facebook is better.  Its like comparing any mobile phone to the iPhone....  They might have a nice USP but you just dont get better than the full package.  Looking from the outside Twitter would be better selling while they can still get something for it - look at ITV and Friends Reunited.

about 7 years ago

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Adrian | Impact Media

I was OK with all of this until I read the reference to MeettheBoss in another comment, at which point I nearly choked! This is a site that had issues with user registrations earlier this year, i.e. I had to re-register and I'm currently on my third attempt to unsubscribe.

IMO, should not be mentioned in the same breath as Linkin.com, or even LinkedIn.com.

about 7 years ago

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Richard West

Adrian,

Sorry to hear that Adrian, every one is intitled to the opinion, From my own experince with meettheboss as a CEO for a global import company I found it very useful. I have all my heads on there who I can video call in two clicks of a button. I have had some technical issues but you do with all online networks, From what I understand from the invitation that I recived to join meettheboss.com is that the site is only in it first year, Face book has taken over 10years to get where it is today so from that angle I am very impressed with the meettheboss network, Also it saved me alot of money with regards to not having to invest in a video confrencing tool.

The tools on there are great and its great to network with fellow executive in real time. I understand that these things take time to grow and run smoother and I belive that meettheboss.com is the executive choice with regards to a secure business network.

Would like to think over people would understand and agree too.

about 7 years ago

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Cyber Rainbow

Facebook search is tons better than Twitter search. learn someting new every day

about 7 years ago

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