Social media giant Facebook has hired the co-founders and several team members of geo-social app Gowalla but will not acquire the service itself, which is due to be shut down in January.
Based in Texas, Gowalla was launched in 2009 by Josh Williams and Scott Raymond. Its mobile app allows users to “check in” to real-world locations using their mobile devices.
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Facebook has confirmed its purchase of Gowalla, but says it is not buying the brand’s service or location-based technology. Instead, it will absorb the management team behind the company.
“Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with other members of the Gowalla team, are moving to Facebook in January,” Facebook said in a statement.
“While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time.”
The Gowalla team will relocate from Texas to Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
Facebook has declined to specify what product or service the Gowalla team will work on at Facebook, other than noting that the team will join Facebook’s design and engineering teams.
Meanwhile, Williams explained his decision to accept Facebook’s offer in a recent blog.
“About two months ago, my co-founder Scott and I attended [developers’ conference] f8. We were blown away by Facebook’s new developments,” Williams wrote.
“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.”
“Gowalla, as a service, will be winding down at the end of January… Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla’s user data.”
It’s worth noting that Gowalla was released the same week as Foursquare; a rival location services start-up.
Both companies provide a way for people to broadcast their whereabouts to friends and others by using their mobile phones to “check in”.
However, Foursquare increased its user numbers faster than Gowalla, which has never able to catch up.
Foursquare even issued a statement about Gowalla’s move to Facebook, offering its congratulations to Williams and his team before noting the success of its own service.
“Here at Foursquare, we continue to focus on building an amazing product and growing our 15,000,000-strong community,” the company said in a statement.