Facebook’s M&A Plans

 

Will Facebook Make a Big Bet?: With Google aiming for it, Facebook has been forced to grow up fast. That means acting like a big company even while it’s figuring out its business. The hot reception Google+ garnered is evidence that Facebook can’t sit still. One area that has not been Facebook’s forte is M&A. It’s made a few small transactions, typically what’s known in Silicon Valley as acq-hire deals, in which Facebook is basically buying talent. Witness its purchase of Friendfeed, which brought to the company Paul Bucheit and Bret Taylor, who are both now two top executives. Foursquare is plotting 20 acquisitions in the next year, according to Bloomberg. But those are likely to remain small potatoes — at least prior to Facebook’s going public. It doesn’t have the cash to make monster deals like Google’s recent $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola. Still, these pre-IPO acquisitions can be staggeringly important. Google hit a gold mine when it scooped up Applied Semantics in 2003. It ended up becoming the basis for its AdSense product.

The Viral Earthquake: Buzzfeed has a great chart showing just how important it is to be timely in digital media. It put together 20 of the most underwhelming earthquake damage photos posted online yesterday afternoon. The post shot up like a rocket to 600,000 viral views in a few hours.

Email and Social: It’s fashionable to think of email as dead or dying. It’s a chore and can be overwhelming. Yet it’s also the lifeblood of social media applications, which are often email marketing operations at their core. Social apps depend on email to drive engagement and find new users with those annoying emails that someone we don’t know is following us. It will be interesting to see if social apps wean themselves off email. It’s unlikely in the near term, however, particularly since Facebook has cracked down on using its News Feed for marketing blasts.

Facebook Didn’t Kill Foursquare: It turns out Facebook’s check-in functionality didn’t kill Foursquare. Facebook said yesterday it’s moving away from its check-in feature to make location a part of more of its products. It’s not totally clear whether this means Facebook is abandoning the “check-in wars,” as many blogs have said. It is clear that large platforms often don’t kill specialized apps when they move into their territory. The reason is people use Foursquare explicitly to tell their friends where they are. They often use Facebook to look at photos.

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