ADOTAS – In a move that, from a distance, appears to be a strikingly efficient way to both add to its in-house technology stable and get its hands on a strategic URL, Facebook has acquired Face.com, the Israeli facial recognition software company that the network has already been using for some time to help users identify and tag themselves and their friends in the photos they post. Neither party has disclosed the price or terms of the acquisition.
At the end of May, the AllFacebook blog (which is, just to make clear, neither created nor officially endorsed by Facebook) posted a fairly detailed history of rumors around Facebook and Face.com’s business relationship. There was already some chatter that the two companies would close a deal, specifically for somewhere between $80 and $100 million, according to Israeli business newspaper Calcalist. AllFacebook also reported Facebook has made offers to buy Face.com in the past, but the terms hadn’t been to Face.com’s liking.
One of the pain points for Facebook as a business right now is to accelerate its mobile presence, which is often perceived by users as being subpar and which substantially lags behind the web version when it comes to monetization. Enter, for example, Face.com’s Klik, a facial recognition app with an estimated 40,000 users, which allows users to tag their Facebook friends automatically before posting a photo, and which is currently only available via iPhone. In a post on his own company’s blog, Face.com CEO Gil Hirsch wrote, “We love building products, and, like our friends at Facebook, we think that mobile is a critical part of people’s lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph. By working with Facebook directly and joining their team, we’ll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers.” After Facebook’s IPO tanked, which puts the network in re-asserting its relevance in a business sense, what Face.com can bring to the table for the mobile end of things suggests it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.