The big news tonight is that AOL has acquired the lifestreaming service, SocialThing. This acquisition is by AOL’s People Networks division. Frank Gruber, who is one of the primary product managers in that division, announced the acquisition on his blog tonight. There’s no word on how much the company was acquired for but you can pretty much guarantee that it’s nowhere near the $850 million AOL spent on Bebo.
It’s most likely closer to the million dollar range, but at this point that is nothing beyond speculation. SocialThing is a competitor to FriendFeed which I was first introduced to at South-by-Southwest back in May. As the Compete.com graph below illustrates, SocialThing has been facing some fierce competition from FriendFeed who continues to gain traction.
So how is AOL going to leverage SocialThing? One way is to simply leave it as is, as a standalone website. Currently AOL has a diverse set of web properties that exist under their own brand names, but many of those could be cut back in the near future (as Valleywag points out). The other way it could be integrated is through Bebo, making SocialThing the center of users’ activities on the site.
Meshing together such a diverse set of offerings can be extremely challenging though and frequently acquisitions by large companies spells the death of start-ups. Not that this will happen with SocialThing but the company most definitely has a challenging road ahead as AOL tries to piece together their social assets. This could prove to be a great step toward merging everything together. For now we’ll have to wait and see.