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Facebook buying Gowalla – hot talent acquisition or good deal on a floundering startup?

The rumor mill is churning

We broke the story last month that something was amiss at Gowalla, that staff was disappearing and their resumes were showing up all over Austin where Gowalla and AGBeat are both headquartered. Now, there are rumors flying that Facebook has acquired Gowalla, but no terms have been released, and CNN cites “a source close to Gowalla” as their informant, but Facebook has not responded to our request for comment and Gowalla has told all news outsources that they “don’t comment on rumor and speculation.”

If the rumors are true, after only two years since it’s launch, Gowalla’s employees will move to Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto and focus on the Facebook Timeline feature. After struggling to nail their identity in the location-based services arms race, they departed from the Foursquare model some time back and rebranded as a travel guide, having to pivot in an effort to stay afloat and keep their investors that funneled $10.4 million into the promising startup happy.

“It’s a perfect match,” the CNN’s source noted. “As far as the big picture, Gowalla’s vision is about people telling stories, and Facebook’s vision for Timeline is about stories about important moments in life.”

There is no word as to whether this is strictly a talent acquisition and what will happen with the Gowalla app.

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Last month, we wrote, “Although it is a quiet notion and likely just a rumor, we were asked by a very successful entrepreneur in Austin if we knew that Gowalla could be going under and later that same day we were asked by a venture capitalist if Gowalla’s $10.4 million wasn’t keeping them afloat and 2012 wasn’t looking good. We have been told that Austin startup CEOs and employees have been quietly submitting their resumes at more established companies and even Gowalla employees are rumored to be sending out a high volume of applications. It isn’t just Gowalla though, they’ll just be the biggest let down if this is even remotely true (which we’re not convinced of).”

Could our assertion that sparked mass debate online be true that Gowalla was shedding talent in preparation for the Facebook acquisition or did Facebook get a hell of a deal on a floundering company? No financial details have been released yet, but the purchase amount will speak volumes and this either/or proposition will likely never be answered as we believe the rumors to be true, confirmed or not.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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