After weeks of rumors, Gowalla's co-founders finally confirmed that the company was purchased by social networking giant, Facebook. Representatives from Facebook have confirmed that they will not be using any software or technology created by Gowalla. As soon as January 2012, Josh Williams, along with co-founder Scott Raymond and several other members of the Gowalla team will head out west to California to join Facebook's design and engineering team. Instead of directly adopting Gowalla's established service, Facebook is hoping to use the team's experience and expertise in creating a similar service customized for Facebook users.
Gowalla is a location-based social networking platform. Users are encouraged to share photos, videos and stories about their favorite places. It is for people who love to explore and travel, locally or world-wide. People can post about their local area as well as places they've travelled. Gowalla organizes the user data by location for other users to review and explore. When people sign up with Gowalla, they can browse different cities, parks and other places based on their local area, friends preferences and expert guides. As of September 2011, the company announced that it planned to concentrate more on the travel aspect of the service and less on social networking.
It is quite likely that eventually a new type of social networking technology or service will render Facebook obsolete, sending the website to the internet attic with sites like Xanga and Myspace. Despite valiant efforts by services like Twitter and Google+, nothing has been able to shake the great titan of social networking. Not only is Facebook thriving in the face of opponents, the company is also picking the carcasses of lesser social networking sites.
Although plans for Facebook to acquire Gowalla have been in the works for months, the real beginning of the merger can be traced back more than a year. Facebook added its Places feature in 2010, marking the first time Facebook included location-based social networking for the company's users. When Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, announced the Places feature, representatives from popular competitors Gowalla and Foursquare were on stage with Zuckerberg to endorse the new feature. Unfortunately, the Places feature was underwhelming for users and lacked the fun aspect of including location in status updates that made Foursquare and Gowalla so popular.
The official Facebook-Gowalla deal began to formulate around mid-2011, when one of Gowalla's co-founders, Josh Williams, attended a Facebook developer conference. Williams was very impressed by what the Facebook team was working on, so when he received a call from Facebook a few weeks later, he was more than eager to hear what they had to say. The team at Facebook noted that the two companies share very similar goals, including building excellent products that reach millions of customers, allowing them to share what's going on in their lives quickly and easily with the people they care about.
Gowalla users can rest assured that the Facebook acquisition will not affect their user information. Gowalla user data will remain safe and will not be shared with Facebook. Currently, Gowalla is working on a way to allow users to easily export their photos and other travel information to Facebook.