A report Monday on TechCrunch suggests that, complementing its purchase last week of social-app manufacturer Slide, Google has made another social-networking buy: a virtual-currency software company called Jambool. The start-up manufactures a product called Social Gold, which lets other sites build virtual-currency infrastructures.
A smaller purchase than Slide, TechCrunch put the price tag at about $70 million. Representatives from Jambool were not immediately available for comment.
Jambool's Social Gold was one of a number of virtual-currency start-ups that rose in the time in between the launch of Facebook's developer platform and its unveiling of its own transaction system, Facebook Credits. With Facebook now expanding the Credits system and potentially snuffing out third-party virtual-currency providers--it's been gradually winning over the most powerful social-game manufacturers on its developer platform--many of those start-ups are undoubtedly hunting for exit strategies.
Jambool's executive team had been openly critical of Facebook's e-commerce ambitions in the past.
Google runs its own PayPal-like transaction platform, Google Checkout, and may have been looking for a virtual-currency system to complement it. The tech giant, in the midst of cobbling together a social-media arsenal that won't flop like several of its past social-media projects have, is rumored to be fine-tuning that strategy toward social gaming, one of the biggest runaway successes to emerge on Facebook. It's invested a hefty amount in Zynga, the biggest social-gaming company, and may or may not be working on a full-fledged gaming product of its own.