Facebook Scoops Up Gowalla Employees as Location-Based Service Winds Down

Facebook Inc. is hiring Gowalla Inc. employees, including co-founders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond, tapping the talent of a once-pioneering provider of location-based services.

The group from Gowalla, which lets users share information about their whereabouts by checking in to the site, will join Facebook’s design and engineering teams, according to a statement today.

“While Facebook isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we’re sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time,” Palo Alto, California- based Facebook said in the statement. The company also won’t be inheriting Gowalla’s user data.

The Gowalla team brings engineering staff to Facebook amid rising competition with Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple Inc. for employees. Facebook also is opening an engineering office in New York, the first outside the West Coast, and plans to hire thousands of employees in the next year, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg (AAPL) said last week.

Gowalla, a competitor to Foursquare Labs Inc. and Loopt Inc., plans to wind down the service at the end of January.

“We know how much many of you loved Gowalla,” the Austin, Texas-based startup said on its blog. “It’s been the highlight of our lives as we’ve built it with your help over the past two years. As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Gowalla -- a fun and beautiful way to share your journey on the go -- will live on at Facebook.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net.

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