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Facebook snaps up group messaging service Beluga

March 1, 2011 | 11:44 am

Beluga caviar is some of the world's most sought after (and expensive).

So it's a name that suited Beluga, the group messaging service, which was also sought after in Silicon Valley.

6a00d8341c630a53ef014e5f917c3c970c-pi The team of three ex-Google employees behind Beluga -- Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow --  were in the midst of raising a round of angel funding that had become quite competitive when Facebook, fast becoming the Moby Dick of Internet companies, swallowed it up Tuesday, snapping up its talented team and its popular service.

It's clearly a catch. TechCrunch's MG Siegler called Beluga his "group messaging white whale," as he quickly became hooked on it. Beluga lets users send instant messages, photos and location information to groups.

"This was a good, fast move by Facebook," Siegler wrote.

Facebook, with its new Messages and Groups services, is clearly looking to stay on the cutting edge of mobile messging. It wants to be the way that friends stay in touch with each other, whether in front of their computer screen or on the go. Nick O'Neill wonders if the Beluga buy means that Facebook group texting is on its way. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Beluga team said on its website: "For now, Beluga will continue to function as it does today. Your Beluga account and data will not be lost."

In a statement, Facebook said: "We're psyched to confirm that we've just acquired the talent and assets of Beluga, whose simple and elegant mobile apps blew us away as a solution to help groups of friends stay in touch on the move."

It added that it will provide "more details on future plans for Beluga in the coming weeks."

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-- Jessica Guynn

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