Google Inc. made another play for the social networking space Friday with its acquisition of Slide Inc., which makes games, applications and widgets for websites such as Facebook and MySpace.
The San Francisco developer makes free apps that Facebook users can install on their profiles in order to play simple games with friends or to arrange photo slide shows.
Slide's SuperPoke application and its animal-centric variations, for example, are a family of popular social games with which players can virtually hug friends or raise a pet pig. A feature similar to Slide's Top Friends was eventually implemented by Facebook into every profile, allowing users to rank online buddies.
Facebook eventually implemented a feature similar to Slide's Top Friends on every profile, allowing users to feature certain online buddies more prominently.
Google didn't immediately return a request for comment on the financial details of the deal, but a report on the website TechCrunch said the company agreed to pay $182 million plus $46 million in employee retention bonuses.
Faced with the skyrocketing popularity of Facebook, Google has been searching for ways to make products that are more fun and collaborative.
Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal last week that Google would partner with Zynga Game Network Inc. Zynga makes the wildly popular (and profitable) games FarmVille and Mafia Wars.
The Mountain View, Calif., search giant is also rumored to be working on a rival to Facebook called Google Me.
The company launched a competitor to Twitter in February called Google Buzz. The microblogging platform integrates with Google's popular e-mail service Gmail and the mobile version of Google.com, but it has failed to retain users' attention. And this week Google said it would shut down its Wave feature, an unpopular social product that it launched last year.
In addition to Facebook and MySpace, Slide also makes widgets for Orkut, a social network from Google that has gained popularity in Brazil but little elsewhere, as well as for Bebo, a social network AOL Inc. recently unloaded at a huge loss.
Google's other acquisitions this year have focused more on its core businesses, such as advertising and search.
Shares of Google fell 1.6% on Friday, exceeding the 0.2% drop of the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index.