Facebook has acquired shopping search engine TheFind.com, hinting the social networking giant’s continued aspirations in two of the Internet’s biggest money-makers: search and e-commerce. The deal, the value of which was not disclosed, was announced in a post on TheFind’s website.
The deal follows a series of initiatives by Facebook to get its users to search and shop through its service. But so far, the company has failed to gain the traction it has in connecting friends and family by letting them share posts about everyday life and photos.
Founded in 2006, the Mountain View, California-based start-up TheFind.com built an e-commerce platform focused on retail search and discovery, typically for more fashion-forward Internet users. Some of TheFind’s social shopping competitors include PopSugar Network-owned ShopStyle, Fancy.com and increasingly Pinterest as the latter grows out its own direct e-commerce channels. The Find also has heavily pushed a mobile-first strategy over the last few years, ramping up connections with shoppers on its smartphone and tablet apps.
Given Facebook’s increased revenue on mobile based on its last several earnings reports, the ethos at TheFind significantly mirrors its new parent company. Both Facebook and TheFind cast the acquisition as a way to lift Facebook’s digital advertising business. With $12.6 billion in annual ad sales last year, the company is unquestionably a dominant player in the industry.
“Together, we believe we can make the Facebook ads experience even more relevant and better for consumers,” Facebook said in a statement about the deal. TheFind echoed those comments, saying its technology would be integrated into Facebook “to make the ads you see on Facebook every day better and more relevant to you.”
Facebook has tried its hands on search before with Graph Search which did not go very well. Meanwhile Facebook’s entry into e-commerce have been rocky. The company’s initial plan to get retailers to sell goods on their Facebook pages fell apart, when many retailers pulled back their stores in 2012.
Facebook has been testing a ‘buy’ button since July 2014 that lets users purchase goods directly. Now, with TheFind, it would be able to add additional shopping tools to its service.
Although Facebook continues to grow revenues at an impressive rate, the 11-year-old with just over 9,000 employees is no longer a start-up. As a result, it is learning a lesson picked up by many maturing tech companies. Compared to the some of Facebook’s previous acquisitions like Whatsapp and Instagram, the TheFind purchase reflects a much more niche motivation rather than a grab for more users.