“Lose the “book”, “face” is much cleaner…”
If you haven’t heard already, Facebook has bought the facial recognition company Face.com. Face.com’s CEO and co-founder Gil Hirsch has officially announced about the acquisition of the Israeli-based startup by the social networking giant on the company’s blog.
Although the first question that most people probably ask is how much Facebook payed, I find it much more interesting to ask WHY Facebook decided to acquired Face.com. But just to calm you down (and hopefully keep on reading), according to multiple sources the deal rounds around the $60 million.
And now for the interesting part. Why indeed Facebook needed to buy the facial recognition service at all? Here are the reasons that came across my mind:
To Stay On Top
Surprise, surprise! Facebook isn’t the only social networking service around! Sure, today it has over 900 million users from all around the world but nobody is guaranteeing that in today’s volatile and always changing technology world it will always stay on top.
Facebook knows that it’s VITAL for the company to offer the best social products and services in order to lead. Face.com offers a very special and unique social experience which Facebook can’t afford to drop into the hands of one of its rivals.
Have you ever tried Face.com’s app KLIK? If not, I urge you to give it a shot because it is simply freakin’ amazing! It’s a service that brings you nothing less than a technology that could only be previously found on James Bond movies (and probably by few intelligence agencies).
Facial recognition at that level would certainly be one of the most prestigious and exclusive technology services only limited number of companies can provide. Now, Facebook is one of them.
Buy Them While They Young
As Facebook already proved before with Instagram, it is willing to spend a lot of money on services that just might threatened the company in the future. Eliminate the threat while it’s still young is a pretty common strategic business move, in which Facebook is happily adopting.
And if you think that’s an imaginary scenario, just think about how small Google was to Yahoo in 2000, what a small community Facebook was to MySpace in 2006 and what a fragile company Apple was to everybody in 1997.
There are more than 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook EVERY SINGLE DAY, most of them through mobile devices. Just think about the enormous potential of engagement increase when enabling automatic facial recognition to this astonishing number of photos by mobile users which constitutes as the majority of the social network.
Also, Face.com capabilities would be a great addition to Facebook’s photo-sharing mobile apps- Instagram and the recently launched Camera.
Facebook isn’t just swallowing Face.com technologies but also its entire small and quality team. There’s a lot of competition by tech companies to allure and obtain the best employees to come work for them and with this kind of acqui-hire Facebook make sure they do.
Owning The Service Instead Of “Renting”
It is known that Facebook already had some cooperation agreement with Face.com prior the acquisition. The logic is pretty simple here- Why pay every period for a service you highly respect and satisfied with when you can buy it and get a complete access to its full abilities?
Development Center Abroad
It has been widely rumored that Facebook wants to deploy development centers in other countries outside of the U.S. Face.com’s headquarters located in Israel which is known to be a successful flourishing spot for many tech companies (Microsoft, Intel, Google, HP).
By acquiring Face.com, among other things it also gives Facebook the abroad development center footstep expansion it might be looking for.
The Domain Name
Although it most likely isn’t one of the core reasons for the acquisition, now Facebook also holds the domain name face.com which can furthermore help to brand and associate the company with everything face-related.