by Ezinne Ajoku
After tinkering with Course Mash and FaceMash( the latter to the disappointment of the school administration), Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004. That little Start Up which he created with his buddies Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin in his dorm room at the Ivy League Institution, Harvard, has now morphed into the largest social networking site which caters to over 1.2 billion users worldwide.
Today, MZ has added more companies to his collection. Not surprising, for a multibillionaire. Dude keeps shelling out billions of dollars on his acquisitions venture. At the time of writing, Facebook has gobbled up roughly 50 companies since 2005, and most of them are considered talent acquisitions. MZ’s MO for acquisition of companies follows this format: Buy the company, hire their team, take over their technical assets and shut down the company. MZ actually confirmed that he “usually buys companies to get excellent people and that he focuses on acquiring great companies with great founders.”
Here is a breakdown of his acquisitions over the years.
CONNECTU: Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler WinkleVoss co- founded a social network called Harvard Connection. They got into a bit of squabble with Mz over rights to the Facebook idea. They eventually landed in mediation. As one of the terms of mediation, MZ agreed to purchase ConnectU. Facebook has been operating ConnectU since 2008, though the website itself is technically inactive.
FRIENDFEED: FriendFeed was launched in 2007 as a real-time feed aggregator. It garnered data from RSS and Atom feeds, social media and social networking websites, and blogs. Two years after, Facebook bought FriendFeed for $15 million in cash and $32.5 million in Facebook stock. This was a great acquisition because the FriendFeed included ex-Googlers and Gmail creator Paul Buchheit. “Facebook also already borrowed quite a few features that FriendFeed made popular – such as an adaptation of the ‘Like’ button. The acquisition later helped Facebook to focus on real-time news feed updates as well, without requiring users to manually refresh their page.”
NEXTSTOP was launched in 2009 as a social travel app. It basically recommended places to sightsee around the world, complete with photos, maps and factual information. A major selling point for NextStop were Ex-Googlers like Carl Sjogreen and Adrian Graham, who helped create products like Google Calendar, Google Groups, and Picasa. Facebook acquired NextStop in 2010, with most of its employees and assets. The site shut down later that year.
HOT POTATO: Facebook acquired Hot Potato, a New York-based start-up that specialised in social activity updates, in 2010. It became non- operational shortly after being acquired and the team’s eight employees, including the CEO Justin Shaffer joined Facebook. It has been speculated that the acquisition helped to “improve the functionality around status updates and the Facebook Places feature, as well as real-time updates and stream of chatter/commentary for events.”
DROP.IO: This was another “acqui-hire”. Facebook acquired most of the assets of Drop.IO, a start-up that allowed users to privately share files through a drag-and-drop interface with additional options like phone calls and faxing.
FRIEND.LY: Facebook acquired Friend.ly in 2009. It’s social Q&A website, which allows users to post questions on different subjects and get them answered, and it also has a similar Facebook app designed to help users pose questions to online friends. Facebook continued to operate as Friend.ly as a separate service, and it said the Friend.ly team would also focus on new projects at Facebook.
KARMA: Facebook acquired this mobile gift-giving app in May 2012 for more than $80 million. Shortly after, Facebook relaunched Karma as Facebook Gifts. It functions as an online gift shopping platform.
INSTAGRAM: This acquisition was a game changer for MZ. He purchased the company for $1 billion in cash and stock, which was the most he’d ever paid for a company at the time. Simply put, Instagram caters to human vanity by allowing users share photos and videos, with the bonus effect of applying filters. It is now one of the most popular apps on android and iphone.
LIGHTBOX.COM: was a photo-sharing app. This acquisition was mostly an acqui-hire. Lightbox no longer exists.
FACE.COM: This was an Israeli start-up specialising in facial recognition technology. Its software enabled Facebook users identify and tag friends in photos.
JIBBIGO: Facebook also acquired the team and technology behind Pittsburgh’s Mobile Technologies, a speech recognition and translation startup. From voice search to translating News Feed posts, many reports noted that Facebook could to a lot with the company’s technology.
BRANCH: IN January 2014, Facebook picked up Branch and Potluck for a reported $15 million. The services the company offered-a friends’ hangout to discuss cool things they discovered online- were immediately added to Facebook.
WHATSAPP: MZ acquired the wildly successful messaging app WhatsApp in 2014 for a whopping $16 billion, to help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies. This strategic purchase gained Facebook 450 million users from the Whatsapp.
OCULUS VR: MZ purchased virtual reality company Oculus VR for $2 billion in March 2014. Oculus VR is the creator of the Oculus Rift, a headset that has been leading the virtual reality space. MZ purchased it to expand Oculus’ existing position in gaming to new streams, including communications, media and entertainment, education, and more. In a statement, MZ said, “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face, just by putting on goggles in your home.”
We can imagine.
PROTOGEO OY: In April 2014, Facebook added Moves, the fitness tracking application and its ProtoGeo Oy development company, to a long list of other app acquisitions.
ASCENTA: MZ purchased this company to expand broadband coverage around the world using drones, satellites, lasers and what have you.
His other acquistions include Acrylic Software, Spool, Threadsy, Atlas, Spaceport, Monoidics, Little Eye Labs, Wave group, Live Rail, Sport Stream, Onavo, Quick Fire Networks, Pebbles, Two big ears, MSQRD(Masquerade), Wit.ai, TheFind,Inc, Surreal Vision, Private Core, Surreal Vision, Osmeta, Atlas, MailRank, Sofa, Belluga, Snaptu, RecRec, Daytum, Rel8tion, Beluga, Sofa, Posh pop Press, Gowalla, DivvyShot, Octazen, Friendster patents, Share Grove, Chai Labs, Caffeinated Mind, Tagtile, Glancee, Spool…
Is there any proper way to end this? Clearly, MZ is striving for world dominance. Social networking, fitness tracking, virtual reality, entertainment, travel…And he does not appear to be quitting soon.
Rule the world, MZ!