As reported earlier today, Facebook has acquired social sharing service FriendFeed for an undisclosed sum (believed to be $50 million.)
The deal was a talent buy according to most analysts, with Facebook landing the likes of Paul Buchheit (who created Gmail for Google) and Bret Taylor (previously with Google Maps.) Talent deals tend to share one similar trait: the original product eventually dies some time after the acquisition, if not immediately, and the confirmation of this is in the media release put out by Facebook today:
FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being as the teams determine the longer term plans for the product.
The emphasis is mine, but it’s the key section, because you don’t say “for the time being” when you have a long term commitment to a product; you say this when you have every intention to close it down, but don’t want to close it down as the deal in announced so as to focus the news on the deal, as opposed to abandoning your users in return for a ton of cash.
That may sound a little sarcastic, but noting the truth doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense, because it does: FriendFeed as a service has failed to take off. Back in January I defended their stats, noting that the stats then looked liked Twitter’s at a similar stage in its history; that was 8 months ago, and two new versions of FriendFeed later FriendFeed’s traffic has continued to remain flat, or according to some stats providers, started to decline. The product wasn’t helped by the latest version, a so-called “real time” version that made usability so bad you’d have to be on acid or suffer severe ADHD to keep up. That last version is what turned me from a loyal FriendFeed user into one who only logs into the site once a week, and only then because someone has shared a FriendFeed item on email first.
The question now becomes one of when will FriendFeed close. The timing there is at best guess work: my guess is the announcement of closure will happen before the end of August, and be scheduled for maybe September or October.
See also: Hear the news? Let the Friendfeed exodus begin