Google Buys Jambool to Rival Facebook Credits

Google acquires Jambool, which makes the Solid Gold virtual currency service that competes with Facebook Credits. Jambool is the latest piece of Google's social network strategy.

Google confirmed that it acquired Jambool, whose Solid Gold platform provides a virtual currency service for providers of online games and others who want to put payment options in their applications.

TechCrunch broke the news Aug. 9, saying the deal was worth $70 million. Jambool and Google confirmed the deal Aug. 13.

Jambool's Solid Gold virtual payment platform lets application developers insert payment options into online games and other applications.

Jambool will provide another piece of the puzzle that is Google's social network, joining Google's newly acquired social widget maker Slide and the investment and partnership with online gaming provider Zynga.

Slide provides popular widgets for Facebook, and Zynga's Farmville and Mafia Wars keep many of Facebook's 500 million social network users engaged.

With Zynga, Slide and Jambool, Google has social gaming, social applications and virtual payments in place, three of the key ingredients that have made Facebook such a successful social network.

However, a Google spokesperson did not mention the word "social" in a statement to eWEEK confirming the deal:

"We're pleased and excited to welcome the Jambool team to Google. We are committed to offering consumers and merchants innovative digital payment solutions, and Jambool will help Google evolve our payments offering and expand into digital goods and content."

When asked what Google will use Jambool for, the spokesperson said:

"E-commerce is a critical part of the Web experience for many users, and the very talented Jambool team will be a valuable asset to Google as we work to improve these experiences."

Jambool CEO Vikas Gupta and CTO Reza Hussein, who previously worked on, announced the deal in a company blog post Aug. 13, and promised in this FAQ to preserve its payment platform for existing customers.

"In the first half of 2010, we've processed more than double the entire payment volume we processed in all of 2009," Gupta and Hussein wrote.

"And we've welcomed hundreds of developers to our platform. The fact that our highest revenue day was in the last week attests to the continued growth of online gaming."

Social Gold's success in the face of Facebook Credits, a popular platform that has attracted thousands of application developers, is a testament to the rising popularity in virtual payment opportunities.

While Google has yet to confirm plans for its social network, it's safe to conclude there is one in the works given these nearly $400 million in investments.

Slide cost Google $228 million, Jambool cost $70 million and Google's investment in Zynga is reportedly $100 million or more.