Friday, December 25, 2009

Twitter Buys Geolocation Startup Mixer Labs

Twitter is putting some of its recent big funding round to work; the company has purchased Mixer Labs, which provides services to developers who want to make their products location-aware. In late August, Twitter said it would introduce an opt-in feature that would make it easier for users to add their location to their Tweets and in a blog post Twitter CEO Evan Williams links the acquisition to that initiative. “We want to know, What’s happening?, and more precisely, Where is it happening?” he writes. “As a dramatic example, twittering “Earthquake!” alone is not as informative as ‘Earthquake!’ coupled with your current location.”

MixerLabs’ services include a ‘reverse geocoder,’ which takes coordinates and returns the nearest intersection, a ‘places finder,’ which compares specific locations to its database of 16 million businesses and points of interest, as well as a way to search for a specific type of media by location (Interestingly, this is an example Mixer Labs gives: “Want to get back all the Tweets within a specific neighborhood? No problem.”) The company also owns TownMe, a wiki site that lets users edit pages about their home towns.

Williams says that the Mixer Labs team—which includes CEO Elad Gil, who co-founded Google’s mobile team, and president Othman Laraki, who managed products at Google, including Google Toolbar—will now be joining Twitter. He says that they will be “looking at how to integrate the work Mixer Labs has done with the Twitter API.”

As for the terms of the deal, none were disclosed. Mixer Labs does not appear to have raised any venture capital funding, however.

This is not Twitter’s first acquisition; the company bought search startup Summize in July 2008 for a reported $15 million in cash and stock. More acquisitions are likely on the way. Co-founder Biz Stone told a news conference last month that the Summize purchase “was outstandingly good” and that the company was interested in buying up more firms.