After rumors began circulating on Friday that Gowalla was being sold to Facebook, they made it official today by announcing the acquisition on their blog. The service itself will shut down in January.
Facebook has hired some of the Gowalla team â€” including Josh Williams, the co-founder and visionary force behind the app â€” to work on their timeline product. They did not acquire any user data, so Gowalla will be releasing a tool to let users export their pins, stamps, badges and check-ins.
For all Gowalla’s talk about “sharing stories,” they began life as little more than a check-in app which often led the press to consider them a competitor to foursquare. On top of the check-ins were a series of virtual items, pins and stamps that left many users confused.
Exactly a year ago, Gowalla launched an update that was designed to focus more on the story sharing aspect and allowed checkins to be sent to foursquare. Then in September, another update took Gowalla further away from stories with a selection of curated local guides that left out all but the largest cities. The update was not well received among users, many of whom abandoned the service. In the past few months, opening the app felt like entering a ghost town.
Other than a deal with Disney Parks, Gowalla was never able to gain traction with national brands, which eventually helped foursquare to rise to the top. With Gowalla’s recent mis-steps, an acquisition by Facebook was the best possible outcome for the team, even if it didn’t turn out great for investors. Terms have not been disclosed, but it’s likely Facebook acquired Gowalla at a bargain price.