Zynga buys social browser Flock … or maybe just its engineering team

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Social Web browser Flock just announced that it has been acquired by social gaming giant Zynga, confirming an earlier report in TechCrunch.

Chief executive Shawn Hardin wrote that the deal is a “perfect fit” and that “Flock will help Zynga in achieving their goal of building the most fun, social games available to anyone, anytime – on any platform.” (Zynga has built its massive audience on Facebook, but is now trying to diversify.)

The company’s browser allows users to access their social networks while browsing other websites. Hardin said Flock had 10 million users worldwide, which is a substantial audience, but not exactly a huge hit for a five-year-old company that raised about $30 million in venture funding. (Flock’s lack of success was one of the reasons to be skeptical when RockMelt, a browser with a similar concept, launched in November.)

Last week, I complained about “manquisitions”, where startups are “acquired” as a way to hire senior team members while the product is abandoned. Is this the first manquisition of 2011? TechCrunch suggests that it might be, because Zynga, Twitter, and Google were all trying to acquire the company’s engineering talent. Hardin is vague about the future of the Flock product: “We thank our users for their unwavering support and dedication. We’ll have more news about our products in the month ahead.“

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. This marks Zynga’s eighth acquisition in eight months. It last acquired mobile game company Newtoy. (Zynga CEO Mark Pincus is pictured above.)


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