A few weeks ago Mike Arrington gave me a call asking me if, my employer, AOL, had acquired SocialThing. Though it struck very close to home, I had to bite my tongue since the deal had not yet closed and did not comment on the matter. Now that is has been officially released, I can. It is true, AOL has entered into an agreement to acquire SocialThing, the Boulder, Colorado based social aggregating lifestream startup. The terms are not disclosed and the acquisition is still subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions.
I met founders Matt "indiekid" Galligan, Ben Brightwell and the team as they demo'ed at TECH cocktail Boulder on March 6th. Matt is originally from Illinois, like I am, and moved to Boulder to create SocialThing as part of the TechStars incubator program. I got a preview of the SocialThing private beta at TECH cocktail (shown in the video below) which was a few days before they launched at SXSW Interactive and were written up favorably on TechCrunch as being easier to use than FriendFeed. I was impressed by what this startup had created as it offered a wrapper for all your social activities making it easy to post to multiple networks at once. SocialThing is integrated with 13 social media properties including Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Flickr and is currently still in private beta.
After spending the better part of the first quarter of 2008 contributing to an ideation process around our current products, it quickly became clear that lifestreaming would be an essential part of any social product experience. Facebook, Bebo and MySpace have all placed a lifestream front and center to help users stay on top of all their social news. As the ideation process concluded AOL acquired Bebo for a large sum of money and some of our thinking was put on hold for a bit, but not put to waste. I am constantly looking
at new products and when I saw the user experience, mobile version and social feed functionality of
SocialThing I thought it might make sense to bring them into AOL as part of our lifestreaming efforts. So I introduced them to AOL executives as soon as I could. While SocialThing and AOL were hashing out the details on the acquisition, I lead a small team creating
interface for the AIM Buddy Updates feature which we launched in July
and I highlighted here. AIM Buddy Updates will contribute to the overall lifestreaming effort which can now be anchored by SocialThing.
I previously reviewed SocialThing in a round up post from the TECH cocktail Boulder event and they appear in the video explaining the service. SocialThing has continued to improve upon it's product and I also wrote about some of those improvements as they launched SocialThing version 2.0. I look forward to congratulating SocialThing and welcoming them to the AOL team just as soon as the deal does close.