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Facebook hires team behind location-sharing service Gowalla

December 06, 2011|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco — Gowalla has a new destination: Facebook.

The team behind the mobile app that enables users to share where they are and what they are doing has been recruited by the social networking giant.

Facebook Inc. confirmed that it's hiring Gowalla co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, along with "several other members" of the Gowalla team. They'll move to Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley from Austin, Texas, in January and join its engineering and design teams. Facebook did not identify which product or products the Gowalla group would work on.

The Gowalla service will be shut down next month. Facebook did not buy the service or the technology.

"We're sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time," a Facebook spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Gowalla was one of the pioneers in the location-based sharing space but lost momentum to the more popular Foursquare. Gowalla and Foursquare launched in the same week of 2009.

"As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla — a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go — will live on at Facebook," Williams wrote in a blog post.

Facebook, which is planning a $100-billion initial public offering, has said it plans to hire thousands of employees in the next year. It has about 3,000 employees.

The move gives Facebook another injection of top engineers as it competes for talent with other tech giants such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. and start-ups such as mobile payments firm Square. Facebook said last week that it was opening an engineering office in New York to attract engineers.

Williams said talks with Facebook began after the company's annual conference for developers. Facebook's discussions to buy Foursquare collapsed in 2010 after Foursquare decided to remain independent and raise a large round of venture capital financing.

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