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Facebook Businesses

Facebook Buys a Private File Sharing Service 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-acquisitionville dept.
angry tapir writes "Facebook has purchased most of drop.io, an online content-sharing service, but the social-networking giant sounds more interested in acquiring the company's developers than its technology. Drop.io is a service that lets users create a 'drop' where they can share documents, videos and other digital content. The user can set a time for how long the drop will exist, decide who can view the content, set permissions for who can alter the content and share content in a variety of ways, including on Facebook."
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Facebook Buys a Private File Sharing Service

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  • Lol @sharing... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by santax (1541065)
    Why the hell they buy external expertise... if there is one firm that is really obnoxious good in sharing, it's facebook. It's their damn business model and there is a market for it apparently. Now excuse me, I need to check on my friends.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187)
    What's the problem? Can't Facebook get attract good developers the regular way anymore? Hmm. Maybe all the smart ones know Zuckerberg is a jerk and the company culture is rendered uninhabitable by the swarms of junior-grade developers writing junior-grade PHP, and demand more money than they could negotiate this way.
  • by vortex2.71 (802986) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:55PM (#34085854)

    FYI, Mark Zuckerberg says that he ALWAYS acquires companies for the people rather than the intellectual property.

    • by contra_mundi (1362297) on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:28AM (#34085942)
      And Steve Ballmer always acquires companies for the office equipment, rather than the people or the imaginary property.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Dachannien (617929)

        Indeed. It's always good to have an ample supply of ammo at the ready.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Of course. By explicitly mentioning "supply of ammo" that the post you replied to used in a subtle way, you're explaining the joke by overtly alluding to the time he said "I'm going to fucking kill Google" and threw a chair. Were it not for your explanation, people would totally not have gotten the reference since "office supplies" is far too vague when mentioned along with Steve Ballmer.

          Please mod parent +5, Redundant.

          • by sosume (680416)

            It's OK to be smarter than everyone else. But it's not OK to tell them, Sheldon. Remember your time in high school?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by dskzero (960168)
            That was such a asperger's machine gun flurry i'm tempted to answer.
          • Hey, I'm just doing what I can to help the lowest common denominator catch up with the rest of us.

      • Yeah, I hear he really goes through that stuff fast.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)

      FYI, Mark Zuckerberg says that he ALWAYS acquires companies for the people rather than the intellectual property.

      If that's the case, then it's not a very smart strategy, and he's probably wasting his money.

      There's a BIG difference in working in a small start-up, or SME, and working in a corporation. In a small firm your contribution matters, you can get changes made quickly and easily, you can get projects started in days if not hours. In a corporation none of that is going to happen. You will be marg

      • by abigor (540274) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:00AM (#34089340)

        No, purchasing smaller companies for their dev staff has been a strategy for larger companies from day one. That's why they'll even buy consulting firms who have no products at all, just a talented bunch of analysts and programmers.

        To be honest, you sound like you made up your entire argument on the spot. Trust me, if you offer a lot of stock options which mature over a period of years, then people stick around.

  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash.omnifarious@org> on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:02AM (#34085882) Homepage Journal

    Buying a company for its employees seems so much like a recapitulation of the feudal system. I've already felt that America has basically become a feudal state with the federal government playing the role of king, and large corporations playing the role of feudal vassals. But this just throws that into sharp relief.

    • by nospam007 (722110) * on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:27AM (#34085938)

      "Buying a company for its employees seems so much like a recapitulation of the feudal system."

      I'd say it acknowledges the fact that the people in a company are worth more than some moronic idea about an imaginary intellectual property their lawyers concocted.

      • I'd say it acknowledges the fact that the people in a company are worth more than some moronic idea about an imaginary intellectual property their lawyers concocted.

        While I would agree with you, why couldn't Facebook then just hire them? Why did their need to be a transaction between the company's purported owners and Facebook? Facebook is basically buying the company to buy its employment contracts, its relationship with its workers. That treats those employment contracts as a fungible commodity, and that doesn't sit very well with me.

        • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 01, 2010 @01:16AM (#34086102) Journal

          I'd say it acknowledges the fact that the people in a company are worth more than some moronic idea about an imaginary intellectual property their lawyers concocted.

          While I would agree with you, why couldn't Facebook then just hire them? Why did their need to be a transaction between the company's purported owners and Facebook? Facebook is basically buying the company to buy its employment contracts, its relationship with its workers. That treats those employment contracts as a fungible commodity, and that doesn't sit very well with me.

          It'd look really bad to say "Sorry, investors... I got a job offer at Facebook so that $9.95 million in funding you put into drop.io? Yeah, I hope it works out for you because I'm out of here." Not to mention the fact that most founders want to stick around and grow the business to a healthy size before they exit. This gives the founders and the investors a viable exit strategy rather than "I'm quitting to be a Facebook employee" which, though it's many steps up from quitting and working at McDonald's, has kind of the same ring to it.

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday November 01, 2010 @01:47AM (#34086246)

            Also suppose the company is totally private, no investors. Some guys start it up, fund everything themselves, etc. Not that uncommon for online companies, actually. Ok so they are making money, happy, all that. The owners are the employees. Now Facebook wants them as employees, and they want the team, it is clearly a good one. Easiest way to get them all? See if they'll sell their company. Offer them a buyout, and to come along with it. Effectively it is a "hiring bonus" if you want to look at it that way. However it means you don't have to worry about them dividing their time with their old project, and you get them as a team if they all say yes (buyouts of private companies are always mutual, you can't just buy up their stock).

            In this case though, there were investors. So as the parent says, that takes care of that rather nicely. The investors get a payout, all contracts are satisfied, the employees are free and clear.

            That is something you have to remember is that investment money often comes with some strings attached. You can't just take it, spend it on whatever you like, then quit your company. That could get you in trouble. Doesn't mean you are beholden to the investors for life or something, but there are conditions. A buyout solves all that. Everyone signs off as happy, the company goes away and is part of another company, and so on.

            In the case of a buyout just for IP, well the employees may get the short end of the stick. The owners and investors get money, the employees get shown the door by the new company. In this case, they all get to keep their jobs, they are just working on something new now, or maybe working on the same thing for new people.

            If they don't like it they are, of course, free to walk.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by nacturation (646836) *

              In this case, they all get to keep their jobs, they are just working on something new now, or maybe working on the same thing for new people. If they don't like it they are, of course, free to walk.

              They may be getting told to walk. From drop.io's announcement [drop.io]:

              "What this means is that Facebook has bought most of drop.io's technology and assets, and Sam Lessin is moving to Facebook."

              That makes it sound like this is a one person deal.

              • Hmmm, well that would suck for the rest of the employees, and would be far more normal in terms of buyouts. Usually when a buyout happens, some or all of the employees get shown the door.

        • by Bodrius (191265)

          While I would agree with you, why couldn't Facebook then just hire them?

          I'd guess at least one of two reasons:
          - Scale: it takes time and money to hire a single good developer with industry experience, even more to fit them into effective teams. If you can acquire a team that is already good/great without much attrition, it would pay off.
          - Acquiring Founders + IP: as others have mentioned, it's usually the only way to not only acquire the IP but also recruit the (actively engaged) founder of a startup - so you acquire an executive leader on the area you're expanding instead of a

        • Fungible means "can easily be replaced by a competitor, which is exactly the same." Gasoline, for example, is a fungible good. To the extent that Zuckerberg isn't lying, he's not treating them as fungible. If he was, he would get cheap replacement workers and not these guys who already had jobs.
      • pity noone told Oracle that
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by MadAhab (40080)

      Wake up and get your head our of your ass.

      The feds are irrelevant. They long have been.

      The big companies are the feudal lords. You are a serf.

      Maybe - MAYBE - if the health care reform does what it should you will be less of a serf.

    • Dude, you don't even know what feudalism is, nor what serfs are. Buying a company for its assets is as old as the hills. What, is Count Zuckerberg going to be required to raise his own legion of 1,000 troops the next time there's a war? Or he's going to behead his employees whenever there's a revolt? Give this outmoded language a rest, comrade. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
      • My objection is to treating people as assets. That's what serfs were. They were considered a part of the land. When you brought the land, you got the serfs.

        • The big difference is that employees ultimately aren't assets. They can leave if they wish. Chances are they will stay for their stock options to vest and changes are they will become quite wealthy. Quite a bit different from being a serf.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Omnifarious (11933) *

            No, but the ideas in their heads are, and the employees don't own them even if the employees themselves created them. The IP system has increasingly in recent years been used by our aristocracy to maintain their position at the expense of everybody else.

            Thinking about this is going to take me some time. The analogy is not perfect, the power to quit is a great equalizer (and I'm not saying it makes things equal, just much, much less skewed), but the fact this spawned so much debate makes me think that it's

        • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday November 01, 2010 @01:27AM (#34086158) Homepage
          Serfs were bound to the land. Serfs couldn't leave even if they wanted to. Is Zuckerberg buying land? I don't think so! Are the baronies adjacent to Lord Zuckberberg's estate going to return his fleeing employees to the custody of His Lordship's baliffs? Gimme a f-ing break, man. Stop using the word serfs, it's not the word you're looking for, and it makes anyone who misuses it look uneducated.
          • by gmhowell (26755)

            Serfs were bound to the land. Serfs couldn't leave even if they wanted to. Is Zuckerberg buying land? I don't think so! Are the baronies adjacent to Lord Zuckberberg's estate going to return his fleeing employees to the custody of His Lordship's baliffs?

            Zuckerberg would be a lot cooler if he did.

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday November 01, 2010 @01:55AM (#34086292)

            In the US, you can basically walk from any job, any time you want for any reason. You don't have to give two weeks notice, that is a courtesy, not a legal requirement. You can just up and quit, and that is that. Your employer cannot force you to work. Of course they won't pay you if you don't, and they don't have to give you a good reference if you aren't professional about how you quit, but you can just up and leave for any or no reason and that is that.

            In that regard, employees have tremendous freedom. You don't owe a company anything, regardless of what they've done for you. You can jump ship as often as you like. Some people do too, you find some people that go through jobs like changing shirts. They stay at one place only until somethign slightly better comes along then bail. Sucks for the company but that is how it goes.

            The only case where there can be any kind of direct repercussion is if you signed a contract beforehand. Like say a company offers you $100,000 as a hiring bonus to move and buy a house or something. However in the contract it notes that you have to work for them for a year to get to keep that. If you quit before that, you owe a prorated amount back. Ok then maybe there is a direct consequence.

            However not only is such a thing exceedingly rare (when was the last time you heard about it?) but it is also 100% disclosed up front. You'd have to sign for something like that. A company can't say "Here have this bonus," and then later say "Haha! Just kidding, we had our fingers crossed!"

            In fact you find normally employment contracts are the other way around. You are talented and they want you, so you sign a contract saying they promise to hire you for 3 years at a given rate. If they decide your services aren't needed fine, but they still have to pay out that contract. My friend has such a thing with a consulting gig. They wanted him to move, and it wasn't worth his while if they wouldn't promise him work past the first contract. So they agreed to one year, 40 hours a week minimum, at his rate. If they decide they don't want him before that is up, fine, but they still have to pay out that contract.

          • "Serfs were bound to the land."

            And some company owners would want workers to be bounded to the company and taking active steps to make it happen.

            "Is Zuckerberg buying land?"

            He is buying companies, which are its modern counterpart.

            "Are the baronies adjacent to Lord Zuckberberg's estate going to return his fleeing employees to the custody of His Lordship's baliffs?"

            Don't you remember an article few weeks ago about big players colluding so they won't get into each other's employees? And there *are* situations

    • Ummm, what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Seriously the anti-corporate whining here is always a little silly but this takes it to the point of stupid. Serfs? You are kidding right? You realize that any of these people can at any time go get another job. They are just as free as they were at their former company. For that matter, being that FB is in California they could take the money then quit and go form a new company doing the same thing, since California doesn't allow for non-competes.

      All it means is that they were recognized as a good team, an

    • That only works if the employees really are as powerless as serfs. Sun employees started jumping ship in droves after the Oracle acquisition. If Facebook behaves as hamfistedly, it might not get many of the developers it "paid for".

      The employment market isn't so rosy, but for a developer good enough to acquire a company for, it can't be that hard to find another job.

    • by Doctor O (549663)

      Buying a company for its employees seems so much like a recapitulation of the feudal system.

      Nah, that's nowhere near a feudal system. People can just quit if they don't like the new owners. In feudal systems that isn't possible.

      That is also why I think buying a company for the people is only useful if the buyer has a good reputation, because otherwise the people he's "bought" will just quit in droves, and there's nothing the buyer can do about that.

      This applies not only to reputation, but also to culture. If for example Microsoft bought a company with a hard-core F/OSS culture, I'd doubt many peop

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      That's just stupid, you are not forced to stick to a company you are working for if it's bought out. That's retarded and a flamebait, not 'interesting'.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:10AM (#34085902)

    any legal issues with the on line file shearing system that facebook can be in for by buying one?
    There is alot warez , movies and mp3s on them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Sean Parker was a co-founder of Facebook, and also Napster, so I guess he knows something about legal issues. Napster was sued and ruled out of existence as much as any company can be (I'm sure total value of infringing content on Napster was more than the gross product of the entire universe for all time, using RIAA math) yet its founders came out just fine and went on to do bigger and better things, somehow.
    • any legal issues with the on line file shearing system that facebook can be in for by buying one?
      There is alot warez , movies and mp3s on them.

      The drop.io blog posting [drop.io] should have been included here (not as if people would read it anyway). Emphasis mine:

      "Please download your information before Dec. 15 – we plan to delete it after that time. No user data or content will be transferred to Facebook, and we’ll send out e-mails to everyone to remind them about the service closing."

    • by richlv (778496)

      legal issues is one thing... but when i last tried to use drop.io, it required flash to upload anything.

      slashdot, where's your normal flash-rage ? :)

  • On drop.io 's blog:

    What happens to information on drop.ioafter Dec. 15 ?

    Any remaining data on drop.io [drop.io] will be deleted. No data will be transferred to Facebook.

    Does this give a hint at what drop.io may help Facebook with, after all the data is deleted?

    Share 'anything' is perhaps being taken seriously at Facebook.

  • How long would a file sharing service such as this last under COICA [demandprogress.org]?

  • Wait, what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bieeanda (961632)
    Permissions? Content that can not only be permanently deleted, but will do itself in with the right settings? What the Hell does Facebook want with people who do things like that?
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      I guess you can upload a file and let a friend download it and 48h later its gone.
      No logging back in to clean up. No file liked back to you sitting around for 6 months waiting to be 'found' when your account is cloned. Good for the feds too, all the ip's are kept in the US and under one .com.
    • Wouldn't that make for an awesome privacy policy implementation?

      You'd need to renew or extend the sharing, else it eventually all expires.

  • This is a good example of what may happen to drop.io. Friendfeed has a push service for content that got Facebook into all their competitors, and I thought it was bought to be a great Trojan Horse. Wrong. They bought the team and have since done nothing with the site. The Friendfeed team, however, has completely changed the Facebook APIs. They moved off Facebook's pseudo-RESTful protocols, which were a pain to use and a ham-handed way to do authentication, to Oauth, which is easy and offers more granul
  • Maybe Facebook should talk to this [slashdot.org] guy instead. Creating an on-line file drop is so yesterday!
  • Well, this surprising announcement comes a week after everybody else reported that they aquired them just to completely shut them down.
    After december, all user data will be deleted.

  • ... you must share!
  • "The user can set a time for how long the drop will exist, decide who can view the content, set permissions for who can alter the content and share content in a variety of ways" But the default for access is world-readable forever. Setting permissions more restrictively requires navigating three intermediate pages and viewing an on-line video ad.

  • Canning likes this.
  • Damn, that really blows: drop.io saved me a lot of giant attachment woes from my FTP-challenged clients out there. Any good alternatives? drop.io was great because the interface was simple (literally create a unique drop.io URL and click Upload) and didn't require registration.
  • They are doing what MS was doing for a long time. They bought a competitor, and / or some add in(on) to their product.
    This will give them more quality programmers and also any code that is better then their own, will be assimilated.
    Good for them.

  • Facebook is expanding!

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