Facebook has acquired location startup Gowalla.
Gowalla confirmed the news in a Monday blog post. Co-founder Josh Williams said the location-based service would be winding down in January.
He also said the acquisition came from conversations started with Facebook during the F8 conference.
“About two months ago, my co-founder Scott and I attended F8. We were blown away by Facebook’s new developments,” Williams wrote. “A few weeks later, Facebook called, and it became clear that the way for our team to have the biggest impact was to work together. So we’re excited to announce that we’ll be making the journey to California to join Facebook!”
Facebook won't be acquiring Gowalla's user data, so the the Austin-based startup's plan is to make it easily exportable.
Williams's posting, which came minutes after noon EST, came after days of furious speculation starting last week.
On Friday, though Facebook declined to comment, Williams did not deny that a deal was going through in an e-mail acquired by AllThingsD.
He wrote: “The ink on the deal is not dry, so our holding pattern is that we do not comment on rumors and speculation. I have another e-mail penned that was ready to send you today, assuming you would get this news before the story was officially released.
“But now it is all over Twitter, so you have likely heard. A longer e-mail will be sent soon.”
Austin-based Gowalla has a mobile phone app that allows people to share details of their location by checking in to different venues. A la Foursquare, people score points by checking in multiple times in the same place. (The companies actually launched on the same day, although Foursquare is better known and more popular—Gowalla has 2 million registered users, compared to Foursquare’s 10 million.)
Gowalla changed its strategy in September, targeting casual users looking for recommendations as opposed to more hard-core gamers seeking points and deals.
“There’s a group of 100 million smartphone users who aren’t interested in checking-in or letting their friends know where they are right now,” Williams said of the decision to head more toward the travel space.
Facebook in 2010 launched Places, its mobile-only check-in feature on the site—then ditched it after a year.
Gowalla originally was founded as Alamofire in 2007. Williams started another company before Alamofire: FireWheel Design, whose products included the popular PackRat card-collecting game. “We have a habit of naming things after wildflowers,” Williams told Gamezebo in 2008. A firewheel grows to two feet tall, with concentric circles of pink, red and yellow; Alamofire is a pink or maroon bluebonnet. Gowalla, however, is “an amalgamation of the word Go and a Wallaby, a small kangaroo-ish marsupial that hops from place to place. Now you know,” Williams posted on Quora.
Gowalla has 30 workers. It’s raised more than $10 million. Investors include Floodgate Capital, Greylock Partners and Shasta Partners.
Last week, CNNMoney reported that the company was seeking a buyer, negotiating with companies such as Groupon and Google. Gowalla did not comment on the report.