Facebook acquired mobile messaging startup Beluga, whose group chat software will live on at the company for the foreseeable future.
Facebook March 1 said it has acquired Beluga, a group
messaging startup founded by three former Google employees.
Beluga's software, which will continue to work for its
existing users for the near future, allows people to conduct group chat
sessions via SMS from their mobile phones. Beluga users create a
"pod," or group of people, with whom to share messages, pictures and
TechCrunch broke the story.
Facebook, normally prone to providing nondescript confirmations when it buys
and closes startups, was unusually effusive in its note to reporters:
"We're psyched to confirm that we've just acquired
the talent and assets of Beluga, whose simple and elegant mobile apps blew us
away as a solution to help groups of friends stay in touch on the move."
Facebook added that it looked forward "to welcoming
co-founders Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow, and we're excited
that the team will continue their vision for groups and mobile communication as
part of Facebook."
The part that stands out is that Facebook will keep
Beluga, or at least the technology behind it, alive on the social network.
The move is a departure from Facebook usual acquisition
strategy. The company has acquired companies such as mobile messaging
specialist Hot Potato, online storage provider Drop.io, group photo specialist
and a dozen more startups, only to close up the shops and assigned the
developer talent behind them to other tasks.
Beluga's co-founders said in a brief blog post that
they planned to build its vision for mobile group messaging "as part of
the Facebook team." They vowed to offer more details on future plans for
Beluga in the coming weeks.
The suggestion is that Beluga will remain open until
Facebook launches a comparable chat service for handsets, and politely suggests
users port their info to the social network.
Facebook boosted desktop-based communications on the
social network with its Groups and Messages services last year, but its mobile
app doesn't benefit from such capabilities. Beluga's group messaging, location
integration and photo-sharing may be breath of fresh air the company craves for
the mobile app.
The Beluga founders have the kind of pedigree Facebook
loves: they all worked for Google. CEO Davenport helped build Google AdSense.
President Zhang helped design and develop Google AdWords, Google News and
CTO Perlow was a Google senior engineer who led Gmail's
user interface and server scalability efforts, and oversaw Gmail Chat.