Facebook is looking to acquire another seven companies by 2011, bringing its current year total to 20, a company executive reported.
“Two years ago we didn’t have a track record in acquisitions," Vaughan Smith, Facebook's director of corporate development, told Bloomberg. “While we expected them to work well, it was still a crapshoot how they’d turn out. We’ve built a culture that supports entrepreneurs, and it’s working incredibly well.”
So far, Facebook has made 13 purchases in 2011, including Beluga, a group messaging startup created by former Googlers. Facebook bought 10 in 2010 and only one in 2009. That means Facebook is now doing innovation Silicon Valley-style -- by acquiring startups.
Innovation in the mobile realm is difficult, so Facebook can hire a bunch of engineers and hope for something great or pick off fledgling companies with an interesting product. Now that Facebook is no longer as nimble as it once was, acquisition is an easy way to get new mobile bells and whistles and new talent (the purported "manquisition").
This is especially important now that Facebook is competing head-to-head with Google's new social network, Google+. While only 25 million users, Google+ is the first real challenge for Facebook and it's on its home turf. It has to be irritating to see a well-known neighbor trying to horn in on your business.
So, startups, if you have a decent mobile application, you better set up a meeting with Facebook. Your odds are good -- they're looking to buy more two companies a month.