Facebook has reportedly acquired location-based social service Gowalla, an unnamed source close to the company told CNN Money on Friday evening.
When asked for comment, a Facebook spokesperson wrote, "We don't comment on rumors and speculation." A Gowalla rep was not immediately available.
Gowalla in September announced that it had redesigned its mobile app and planned to shift focus away from "check-ins" and toward user-generated place recommendations.
"We wanted to go back to our passion, which is inspiring people to visit new places and visit the world through the eyes of someone they trust," Gowalla CEO Josh Williams told The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker in September. "I think the check-in industry is going to be doing interesting things around loyalty rewards and daily deals, but that's something entirely separate from what we're trying to solve."
Gowalla, currently based in Austin, Texas, has faced steep competition from mobile check-in service Foursquare, which launched alongside Gowalla in 2009 at Austin's SXSW conference, as well as from daily deals giant Groupon and relative newcomer Google Offers.
In August 2010, Facebook debuted Places, its own location-based deals feature. The feature failed to take off, and almost exactly a year later, the social network announced plans to kill off the project.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, during an interview on Wednesday with Business Insider Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget, shed some light on the axing of Places. According to a live tweet from Business Insider's Silicon Valley Insider feed, Sandberg said the following about Places: "We put i tout there [sic]. It didn't get pickup. We're ruthless. We took it back."
CNN Money reports that the bulk of Gowalla's talent will move to Facebook HQ in Palo Alto. "The team will work on Facebook's Timeline feature, which launched at this year's F8 conference and is gradually rolling out to Facebook's 800 million members," writes CNN Money. (The Timeline is a revamped profile view that places emphasis on media content.)
The acquisition of Gowalla would fill a gap in Facebook's services that the social network has neen unable to close on its own.
TechCrunch points out that "it would make perfect sense for Facebook to start featuring location checkins and photos tagged with GPS coordinates into Timeline stories."
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