As most know at this point, Facebook has acquired Friendfeed. There seem to be 50 plus posts on the topic on Techmeme. Mixed reviews at best on this one. From my reads, most seem more negative slanting. Scoble is excited but thinks this is end for Friendfeed as we know it. I would agree (with the this being the end part), Facebook clearly has no interest in running a separate brand and best we can hope for is to have full open data streaming into the Facebook platform. Louis Gray is watching and comments in a funny “girls in high school” parody. Steve Rubel has an interesting take that this is the next step towards true lifestreaming.
Quick take on first glance:
- Can’t blame the Friendfeed team. They built a great product and an exit to Facebook makes good shareholder return sense. The fact the price tag was $50M really shows how bad the economy has taken a toll on liquidity. I would think based on recent history, Friendfeed would have gone a higher price tag even sans revenue.
- Can’t blame the Facebook team. As Scoble mentioned, Friendfeed was a lead innovator in the social stream space and Facebook was “borrowing” many of the innovations coming from them. They are acquiring a great team that knows how to execute that should only continue to help them build their continually improving platform.
Personally, even while it may make sense for both teams, I can’t help to be a bit negative on this one when I probe into it a bit more. Some of my concerns can be remedied with time, some not.
- I would have liked to see Friendfeed to continue to evolve with more runway, they were doing some great stuff even if their penetration was only into the real early adopters. It would be neat to see if they could cross the chasm just as Twitter did. But perhaps they understood that it was too complicated for the mainstream. This one we’ll never know, the writing is on the wall that Friendfeed will be absorbed fully.
- I am concerned regarding innovation and also the number of players. Louis Gray made a great point when he expressed a concern that there could be four major players, Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. We need more independent companies doing stuff in the space. Time will play out here.
- Friendfeed never developed into a business model (perhaps this is why selling makes sense). I always thought that their platform while fantastic for consumers had a great revenue opportunity for the enterprise, there is big revenue in the B2B collaborationa and communication space. No one has won there yet and current market toosl do not satisfy the need fully.
- I need more than one stream in my lifestream. As Rubel comments, lifestreaming is upon us with this acquisition. Here I am not so sure. I need more than one “sub-stream” in my lifestream in Facebook. Fred Wilson removed everyone and made Facebook his private lifestream for exactly this reason. For him, Facebook is personal and Twitter is everyone. For me, I am going through the same conflict. I have personal and some business people (that I actually know) in Facebook. This creates a gray area between Facebook and LinkedIn. I don’t know (in person) many of the people I interact with on Friendfeed; I don’t want them becoming “friends” yet on Facebook. Already, I don’t like the fact that former business colleagues can see on Facebook what my former high school friends are posting in my news feed if I comment on it. This whole area is an issue and is ripe for innovation.
- Facebook permissioning. I know many of you are going to jump on point #4 above and say “Lou, Facebook has good privacy controls and you just need to manage the groups”. Okay, maybe so but it isn’t clear to me on how to do this. Is there a manual? If you need one, there’s the first problem. It needs to be easy and straight-forward, right now it is not. If I haven’t figured this out yet how can I expect my mom to creating multiple lifestream groups in the Facebook system. One “newsfeed” to rull them all does not work. Facebook may be the one to crack the code here in lifestreaming but it is beyond what they are doing now and is beyond what Friendfeed was doing too. There needs to be innovation around easy management of the “different faces of one’s life”. I will write another post fully on this. But suffice it to say, the Friendfeed integration could get messy for many. Time will tell.
So, time will tell on where this heads. Not only for the integration of Friendfeed and Facebook functionality and follower lists, but also in the entire lifestream space in general. Time will tell on where this puts Twitter and how quickly they potentially move to Google as Kara Swisher outlined yesterday. Look out, lots going on and much more to be on the look out for.
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