Facebook Buys Mobile Startup Tagtile

Continuing to enhance its mobile operations, Facebook has acquired Tagtile, a mobile-centric customer loyalty service started last fall. The company offers a free hardware device for merchants that customers using the Tagtile app can tap at checkout with their smartphones to earn loyalty rewards on purchases.

According to a TechCrunch story last October, the company was testing its Tagtile Cube hardware with 35 merchants in San Francisco, New York and Florida. In a message posted today, Tagtile said Facebook was acquiring “substantially all of our assets.” It also stated that the company would continue to operate normally for now. “But Tagtile as it exists today won’t be part of what we do at Facebook.”

Facebook confirmed the acquisition in a statement: "We’ve admired the [Tagtile] engineering team’s efforts for some time now, and we’re excited to have them join Facebook,” it read in part.

This buy is similar to recent Facebook acquisitions, like Gowalla or Beluga, where it is essentially acquiring engineering talent and technology, rather than an established business or brand it plans to expand. It also sets it apart from the company’s $1 billion purchase earlier this week of popular photo-sharing app Instagram, which will continue to operate as a stand-alone unit within Facebook.

Still, the Tagtile deal underscores Facebook’s ongoing expansion into the mobile space, with the focus this time on mobile shopping technology. It also came on the same day that Facebook Offers went live, allowing small businesses to send promotions directly to users’ news feeds. The new ad format provides a Get Offer link that people can click on to redeem coupons online or offline from merchants they’re fans of on Facebook.

Financial terms of the Tagtile acquisition were not disclosed.

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