Want to know how quiet your critics?
Well, you buy them up of course!
This morning The Verge broke the story that Facebook is acquiring New York-based startup Branch for $15 million. While early reports indicated that the Branch team expected to be building out their product at Facebook, a Techcrunch update clarified that a Facebook rep says the acquisition is for talent only.
Branch is (was?) a link-sharing service that allowed you to have conversations about anything on the Internet, then publish those conversations on a blog or website. Most recently it launched Potluck, an iPhone app that allowed you to discover news bites and talk about them with friends in-app.
Last year, Branch CEO Josh Miller wrote a popular post on Medium calling Facebook an “irreversibly bad brand.” He pointed to the fact that his teenage sister makes a point to visit the social network as little as possible. Our CEO Nick Tippmann had a similar experience with younger siblings, where he was informed that “Facebook is for old people.”
A few weeks ago, however, Miller wrote that he was “bullish on Facebook.” Still, bullish or not, the post offered some–ahem–healthy criticisms of his future employer on things they could do to improve the News Feed. There’s little doubt, given the length of time it takes to make an acquisition, that Miller wrote the more recent post while in talks with the social network.
Fair enough. Even after a $2 million raise, Miller and his cofounders are most likely experiencing their first day as millionaires today, and they have nice jobs at Facebook to add to the deal.
Branch isn’t the only startup trying to disrupt the way we consume news. Quibb is another popular (if exclusive) service that allows industry professionals to share links and discuss them. And then, of course, there’s always Twitter, which seems to work well for everyone. Branch is hoping to bring Facebook back to the news game.
Perhaps we’ll be seeing fewer cat memes in 2014?