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Facebook Acquires Social Location Service Gowalla

Deal will likely help Facebook Places become more competitive with Foursquare and similar services.

Facebook is acquiring geo-social network Gowalla for an undisclosed sum, a deal focused on engineering talent rather than technology or data.

Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams announced the pending closure of his company in a blog post Monday.

Gowalla was founded in 2007 by Williams and Scott Raymond. The company received about $8.4 million in funding two years ago from Greylock Partners and other investors. It will cease operating at the end of January 2012.

"We plan to provide an easy way to export your Passport data, your Stamp and Pin data (along with your legacy Item data), and your photos as well," wrote Williams. "Facebook is not acquiring Gowalla's user data."

Gowalla's Passport data consists of the locations the user has visited. Such data has become increasingly sought after by online advertising companies like Facebook and Google as social, local, and mobile services become more popular and intertwined.

[ Find out why Facebook cares so much about location-based data. Read Facebook Places A Bet Against Google. ]

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the acquisition or explain why the company wasn't interested in Gowalla's user data. Gowalla has about 30 employees.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Facebook had settled charges that the social network had deceived users about the privacy of user data.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that his company had made mistakes in the way it had handled user privacy and promised to "[make] Facebook the leader in transparency and control around privacy."

In August 2010, Facebook launched its own geolocation service called Places as part of an effort to enhance its mobile and local advertising revenue potential and to counter Google's interest in this area. In late 2010, Facebook reportedly tried to buy Foursquare, another location-based social network, but the deal fell through.

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 25-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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