Blog Post

Confirmed: Facebook Has Gobbled Up Gowalla After Two Months Of Talks

We reported on Friday that Facebook was reportedly buying the mobile check-in service Gowalla, and now it is official, according to an announcement on the startup’s blog. As with many of the other acquisitions that Facebook has made, it will be closing down Gowalla — by the end of January, according to the startup.

The post, written by the company’s co-founder and CEO, Josh Williams (pictured), does not put a pricetag on the purchase. Gowalla was founded in 2009 and had raised about $10.4 million in funding from a roster of investors including Greylock, Jason Calacanis, Ron Conway, Kevin Rose and Chris Sacca.

But it does offer a little backstory to just how recently the discussions between the two began: one week after the F8 conference, which took place in September:

“We were blown away by Facebook’s new developments,” Williams writes of the conference. “A few weeks later Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together. So we’re excited to announce that we’ll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!”

This looks like a classic “acqu-hire” scenario, although there may be some old Gowalla code and services coming along, too, that we’ll see integrated into Facebook — a rejuvenated Places/Check-in, perhaps?

What isn’t going to Facebook, writes Williams, is the user data that has been amassed by Gowalla. The company is providing ways of exporting Passport data, as well as Stamp and Pin data and Item data (although that service was discontinued earlier this year).

This buy will inevitably lead to some questions about the future of the many other check-in startups that are out there, from Foursquare to Loopt and GetGlue, to the recently-relaunched Path, as well as Where and many others besides.

Foursquare is currently the most popular of them all, but even that will be far from seeing critical mass for their services. A study from comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) in May revealed that only just over 7.1 percent of mobile users in the U.S., probably the biggest adopter of these services, were using check-in services in a typical month. That number works out to 16.7 million people — a tiny fraction of the 800 million active users of the largest social network of them all, Facebook.