If the rumours are correct, Facebook could be set to expand massively in the not too distant future. Well, in actual fact the social networking giant has officially announced plans to open a software engineering centre in New York in early 2012, but there is speculation that it has also bought Gowalla. Add to this the murmurs of an IPO, and the whole darn thing looks set to become inconceivably large. And we’d be talking around $100bn sort of ‘large’ if the Wall Street Journal are anywhere near with their estimate.
The facts so far are thus: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, announced the plans for a New York office at a press conference attended by NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, and stated “We will be adding thousands of employees in the next year.” Serkan Piantino – who previously led the engineering team behind Facebook’s News Feed and also helped develop the Timeline feature – will head up the office.
Now the rumours. Texas-based Gowalla is a two-year-old social network based around the idea of allowing users to “check-in” to locations and share pictures from their visits. If various reports are to be believed, Facebook has bought the firm for an undisclosed amount, and the development team at Gowalla will be reassigned to work on the Facebook Timeline feature.
At this point neither Facebook nor Gowalla have confirmed any such takeover, although according to the All Things D website, Josh Williams – Gowalla’s chief executive – has sent an email to investors:
“The ink on the deal is not dry, so our holding pattern is that we do not comment on rumours… A longer email will be sent soon.”
While Facebook has declined to comment on anything else other than the proposed New York office, tech analysts expect the company to announce details of a share flotation in the new year.