As we’ve reported earlier, Facebook was in acquisition talks with Face.com, a start up specializing in facial recognition software technology. In a post on its blog, Face.com has announced that Facebook has indeed pulled the trigger and bought the company. This is quite a momentous purchase for Facebook as it seeks to shore up its technology base in light of the increasing competition it is facing from Google and also to beef up its internal value proposition to protect itself from being superseded in the social networking space. Face.com has already released two applications on Facebook: Photofinder lets people locate their untagged pictures and also helps them their friends; Phototagger is an app that let users automatically tag Facebook photos in bulk.
Two years ago, Face.com released its open-API. This Application Programming Interface allows third party developers to use Face.com’s facial recognition technology to incorporate its facial recognition functionalities into their own particular software development. The acquisition of Face.com, while it resolves previous questions regarding whether Facebook is seeking to ramp up its technology base, also raises some questions. In particular, “what would be Face.com’s technical staff’s role in Facebook? “ And also, “how would the acquisition impact Facebook’s relationship with the developer community that is using Face.com’s API. The answer to the latter question is that Facebook will continue to support Face.com’s existing developer community. There’s really no clear answer regarding the former question as to what would be the larger role of the facial recognition company in terms of Facebook’s larger business strategy.
This latest acquisition marks yet another purchase by Facebook. It’s been on quite a tear lately when it comes to buying up companies. Besides the highly publicized one billion dollar purchase of Instagram last April, Facebook also bought Glancee social discovery service and picked up Karma, the social gifting company. Aside from Instagram’s highly publicized (and debated) one billion dollar price tag, the amount of money Facebook spent on Glancee, Karma and now, Face.com have not yet been disclosed. We can, however, look to Israeli publications’ estimate for a potential price tag. Newsgeek, the Israel-based publication, earlier estimated that the pending Facebook-Face.com deal might be worth in between 80 million US dollars and 100 million dollars. No other terms of the deal have been disclosed. Maybe, we could see more details regarding this recent set of acquisitions in the next SEC filing Facebook makes in the coming months.