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Facebook IPO tipped to spark start-up acquisitions

Monday, 30 January 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Facebook’s much-anticipated IPO could raise as much as $US10 billion, it’s been reported, providing the company with funds to make further start-up acquisitions.

 

Facebook could file for an initial public offering as early as this week, according to reports, which would value the company at up to $US100 billion.

 

The IPO would provide funds to help Facebook maintain its expansion and withstand the competition from rivals such as Google.

 

Eric Feng, a former partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, says the additional funds would allow Facebook to make more acquisitions as part of its growth strategy.

 

Facebook’s acquisitions in 2011 suggest a strong focus on mobile technology and talent – six of the 11 start-ups Facebook acquired had previously worked on mobile ventures.

 

StartupSmart picks out five of Facebook’s top deals in 2011:

 

Snaptu

 

In March, Facebook acquired mobile application developer Snaptu for a reported $US70 million in a bid to expand its mobile services.

 

 

Founded in Britain in 2007, Snaptu offers a mobile solution that attempts to give owners of regular handsets a “smartphone-like” experience when using apps for social networks.

 

When a user downloads the Snaptu platform onto their handset, they have access to a range of services including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Facebook said in a statement Snaptu is “run by a highly innovative collection of engineers and entrepreneurs, who we already work closely with”.

 

Facebook said the Snaptu acquisition will aid its expansion in developing countries where smartphones are less affordable.

 

Daytum

 

In April, Facebook hired the two founders of New York-based start-up Daytum, which describes itself as “an elegant and intuitive tool for counting and communicating personal statistics”.

 

Reports at the time said Daytum would continue to operate but its founders would work fulltime in Facebook’s product design team in California.

 

Daytum allows users to manually enter data through the web or mobile app, such as trips to the gym, films watched, or types of food consumed.

 

Users can set goals and track their own performance. Free accounts let users track a limited number of data points, while a subscription gives them unlimited data-tracking and more visualisation options.

 

The new monthly and yearly summary boxes on Facebook’s new Timeline layout look a lot like Daytum’s work.

 

 

Push Pop Press  

 

In August, Facebook acquired digital publishing start-up Push Pop Press, saying it will incorporate the company’s technology into its network.

 

Based in San Francisco, Push Pop Press was founded in 2010 by two former Apple employees. It helps authors and publishers convert physical books into interactive versions for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

 

When the announcement was made, Facebook indicated that it had no intention to release digital books, suggesting the acquisition was purely a talent buyout.

 

According to a Facebook spokesperson, Push Pop Press has developed “ground-breaking” software, changing the way people publish and consume digital content.

 

“Some of the technology, ideas and inspiration behind Push Pop Press [will] become part of… Facebook,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

 

WhoGlue

 

In November, Facebook acquired Baltimore-based software firm WhoGlue. But unlike other companies, WhoGlue was not bought for its talent.

 

In 2009, WhoGlue filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the social network was violating a patent titled “Distributed personal relationship information management system and methods”.

 

According to WhoGlue founder Jason Hardebeck, the ongoing post-litigation conversations between the two companies were what eventually led to the sale of WhoGlue technology.

 

The WhoGlue technology can be applied to sub-network functions like integrating Facebook Groups content more widely throughout Facebook without violating user privacy.

 

“The WhoGlue team isn’t joining Facebook and instead will continue working on its own social networking software for organisations,” Facebook said in a statement.

 

Gowalla

 

In December, it was revealed Facebook had hired the co-founders and several team members of geo-social app Gowalla but would not acquire the service itself, which is due to be shut down.

 

 

Based in Texas, Gowalla was launched in 2009 by Josh Williams and Scott Raymond. Its mobile app allows users to “check in” to real-world locations using their mobile devices.

 

Facebook said it was not buying the brand’s service or location-based technology. Instead, it would absorb the management team behind the company.

 

“While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time,” it said in a statement.

 

Facebook has declined to specify what product or service the Gowalla team will work on at Facebook, other than noting that the team will join Facebook’s design and engineering teams.