In the SFGate article titled 4 Companies That Facebook Should Buy, Thursday Bram talks about the the recent change in the way Facebook acquires companies. Until recently, they took the “Borg” approach: buy the company, dismantle it and add their engineering talent and add it to their own pool.
They changed this approach with Instagram, which they’re not dismantling, but letting it stay its own thing, rather like eBay does with PayPal, Google does with YouTube and Microsoft does with Skype. With Facebook having very firmly established itself as a platform and an IPO that looks to be raising $10 billion on the way, they may continue on this path in order to expand their reach.
Bram suggests that they would do well to buy these companies, one of whom is my employer:
- Skype: Facebook’s video chat is powered by Skype, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft will sell. They porbably need Skype as a way to boost Windows 8.
- LivingSocial: Facebook tried and failed with their own “deal” feature — it might be better for them to simply buy a service that already has brand recognition.
- Mixi: Social networking sites are regional creatures, and Facebook might have an easier time branching in Asia by simply buying successful Asian social networks like Mixi.
- Shopify: Bram suggests that since Shopify is a hosted service for standalone sites, this might be a talent acquisition. I think that there would be a way to do both: let people open both shops within Facebook and standalone shops, with Facebook showing featured products and being the gateway to the full shop, and Shopify utilizing the social graph, Facebook as a commenting system and Likes as a product recommendation engine.
As for the question as to whether Facebook should buy Shopify, my response is the pragmatic one: “Depends. What’s in it for me?”