Facebook Buys FriendFeed: Awesome, Unless You Hate Facebook
So Facebook bought FriendFeed.
Why this is good for Facebook
- They’ve been adding FriendFeed features to their social stream for a while now, essentially using FriendFeed as inspiration. Future ideas may take a more direct route.
- Facebook got a great team that knows what the heck they’re doing on the engineering side. Their search is amazingly fast. Social stream search is still a big deal (I once considered it reason enough to call FriendFeed the “Google of Social Networks.”) Just imagine FriendFeed search on Facebook social streams.
- More cynically, this could be an instance of Facebook taking out a competitor and boxing Twitter in.
Why this is good for FriendFeed
- I personally feel FriendFeed hit a crossroads in the past few months, after a redesign that seemed largely targeted at Twitter users. Their traffic flattened in the challenge to gain more users, a goal that increasingly seemed outside the hands of the company. Maybe they hit a point where it was just easier to sell to a larger company: FriendFeed technology could gain millions of users by joining forces with Facebook.
- FriendFeed still hasn’t monetized via advertising and now has access to all of Facebook’s clients.
- Or perhaps more cynically, this was an instance of VC just wanting their money back.
But I Don’t Like Facebook
I’m part of the group that isn’t happy about this news: because I do not like Facebook. I feel they put profitability above their users, as evidenced by changing privacy agreements or springing new features that nobody has any use for except advertisers. Granted, they backpedal and try to set things right, but their modus operandi is to shoot first and ask questions later.
I was using FriendFeed as a Facebook alternative, and that choice has now essentially been eliminated.
A while ago, I deleted my Facebook account. I shudder at the thought of all one’s FriendFeed activity piping into Facebook. I’m now very glad I deleted my FriendFeed account and along with it, all my data – as I would have done exactly that today.
Also consider how we have Google, a company that wants to index the world’s information in an open way, as opposed to Facebook which wants everyone to bring their stuff into their site. Plus, they have that “do no evil” clause. In a sense, Facebook is creating a relatively closed version of the Internet, inaccessible to Google.
Every user piping data from other sites into FriendFeed is now aiding in that goal.
What I Wish Had Happened
Two other companies come to mind that I wish bought FriendFeed instead: Twitter or Google. Twitter has all the buzz, but would have benefited from the technical prowess of the FriendFeed back end (to fix Twitter’s uptime problems). I seriously think the combination of insane popularity and solid engineering could have eventually taken on Facebook.
I trust Google with my data far above Facebook, largely because of their “do no evil” clause, but also because they still seem (amazingly, for a large company) invested in putting the user first above monetization. And FriendFeed employee Google connections implied an acquisition was an ever-present possibility.
Anyhow, the deal is done. But the result is a technology world steadily shrinking, to a handful of companies (Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter). For social media, it’s literally down to Facebook and Twitter.
With my avoidance of Facebook now as strong as my avoidance of Windows (I’m a die hard Mac user) – I look forward to Google Wave more than ever before.