Facebook Buys Branch for Reported $15M in Effort to Boost News Feed Quality

Facebook meant business when it announced the shift towards quality information in newsfeeds back in December: today, the news broke that the social network bought two mobile conversation apps, New York based Branch and its sister startup Potluck.

Exact terms of the transaction were not available but news reports from The Verge and Recode citing sources close to the deal had the price tag at a reported $15 million.

Branch’s aim is to start and nourish high-quality conversations between like-minded people (read: in need of consistent and rich conversations). Those conversations can then be embedded in blog posts for wider redistribution.

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Potluck, on the other hand, is more of a chat board with friends but with the goal of letting you discover trending topics among your connections and discuss those.

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Josh Miller, Branch’s co-founder broke the news in a Facebook status update, indicating that while both services would continue to exist, he and his team would focus on building a separate product from New York.

This move is the first known by Facebook where it will actually build a new offer from outside its Menlo Park, CA, headquarters. Facebook’s emphasis on information and conversation quality is also a sign for advertisers to expect better value from its news feed.

Just like Silicon Valley is famous for its tech startups, New York has always had the reputation for hosting everything media/publishing and advertising (“Madison avenue”). This double acquisition may signal a shift back to the East Coast on the part of serious Silicon Valley news outlets willing to go back to the “basics,” in New York City.

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