Facebook Follows Our Advice, Buys Beluga


Facebook just announced it is acquiring group text messaging start-up Beluga, snatching away what we here thought might be a good pick-up for Google. Om recently talked about the opportunity for Google to gain ground on Facebook by advancing its communications play, focusing especially on synchronous interactions created by Beluga and other apps that are location aware and allow people to share experiences.

Beluga, a group text messaging mobile app, is all about this kind of interactivity, with its ability to bring contacts together and let people share information and communications in real time. It was started ironically by three former Google employees, Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow.

Here’s what Om said last month on the power of Beluga and other messaging services such as Yobongo.

What’s common between these two apps is their ability for synchronous messaging. This messaging can, in turn, become the under-pinning of what I earlier called interactions.

Ability to interact on an ongoing basis anywhere, any time and sharing everything, from moments to emotions – is what social is all about. From my vantage point, this is what Google should focus on. If not — you know it very well — Facebook will.

So there you have it, Facebook was in sync with what Om was saying and clearly gets where the game is going. It has a new robust messaging system that is more intimate than the traditional e-mail inbox. And now it’s making a play for a solid application that should extends its communications story into mobile.

Here’s a statement from Facebook:

We’re psyched to confirm that we’ve just acquired the talent and assets of Beluga, whose simple and elegant mobile apps blew us away as a solution to help groups of friends stay in touch on the move. We’re looking forward to welcoming co-founders Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow, and we’re excited that the team will continue their vision for groups and mobile communication as part of Facebook.

For Beluga fans, Facebook said the service will continue “for now” with accounts and data preserved. More information about the future of Beluga will get announced in the coming weeks. It’s possible that Beluga may get discontinued as has happened to other Facebook acquisitions such as Drop.io. But for now, there’s still hope it will continue to live on.

The acquisition also further underscores the heat in the group text messaging space, something I wrote about last year with start-ups GroupMe and Fast Society. Expect to see a lot more news as those and other start-ups gear up for South by Southwest.

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