- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook has hired the team behind Gowalla, the location service that lets people share where they are using their mobile phones.

Gowalla started out in 2009 as a way for people to share their location with friends and strangers by “checking in.” Now, Facebook will wind down the service, as it often does when buying a startup to hire its talent. It did not acquire the Gowalla service or technology.

Financial terms were not given. Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams said in a blog post that Gowalla will join Facebook in California. Gowalla is currently headquartered in Austin, Texas, a city with a thriving tech scene and the site of the annual South By Southwest Interactive festival, where many startups _ including Gowalla _ are launched. Gowalla never quite caught on with a large audience, trailing rival Foursquare.

“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 the post.


Facebook said that Williams co-founder Scott Raymond and others at Gowalla will move to Facebook in January. The companies would not say how many employees Gowalla has and how many of them are joining Facebook.

The companies didn’t specify what projects the Gowalla team will be working on, though Williams‘ blog post hinted that one might be Timeline. The feature, which will replace users’ current profile pages, works like a virtual scrapbook. Curated by the user, it includes photos, posts and other events from the person’s life.

“The Gowalla Passport has become a record of all the places we’ve visited, the people we were with, the photos we took, and the stories we told. Many of you even use Gowalla like a scrapbook of sorts _ a place to keep all those memories,” Williams wrote.

Facebook’s latest hires come just days after the Palo Alto., Calif.-based company announced it is opening an engineering office in New York City. Facebook, which is widely expected to go public after next April, has about 3,000 employees and said last week it plans to add thousands worldwide in the coming years.

Facebook won’t acquire data about Gowalla’s users, Williams said.