Google acquires Katango for automated circles?

Faith Merino · November 11, 2011 · Short URL:

The service initially sorted your Facebook friends, but now its redundant with Smart Lists

There’s nothing quite as sobering as posting a drunk status update on Facebook only to realize a few minutes later that your mother can see it.  And then you have to do damage control, which makes you wonder why you friended your mom on Facebook in the first place.  Who does that?  (Confession: I did that, and I regret it every time I take a fun trip to Vegas or New Orleans.)

Katango launched over the summer as a possible solution to that problem by automatically sorting your Facebook friends into groups without you needing to lift a finger.  But now it looks like Katango might be taking those automatic grouping powers over to Google+, as the startup announced late Thursday that it’s been acquired by Google.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

This is an interesting one as Katango was essentially built for Facebook and was even funded by Facebook (somewhat indirectly) via sFund to the tune of $5 million, back when it was known as CafeBots.  The startup launched in July as an algorithmic Facebook friend sorter—meaning it grouped your friends according to certain similarities, such as location, common organizations, similar friends, and so on.

So one group is your old high school crew, another group is your current bar-hopping brood, another group consists of your college buddies, and so on.  The only hitch was that in order to post to specific Katango-sorted groups, you had to post via the Katango iPhone app—so you couldn’t just open the Facebook app and post there.

At the time of launch, Katango said it was planning to expand to other social networks, so it wasn’t entirely dependent on Facebook—but it was still pretty heavily intertwined.  But it was rendered moot in September when Facebook announced that it was upgrading its Friends List feature to include Smart Lists, which automatically sorts your friends for you, with the added bonus of being able to customize those lists at your discretion.

The acquisition by Google seems to indicate that Katango’s technology will be put toward a similar endeavor on Google+, since who wants to sit around trying to cover their ass for every possible inappropriate post by making sure their friends are in the right groups?

“Google+ is seeing tremendous momentum, so it's a perfect time to join and make Circles smarter for millions of people,” the Katango team posted on its website.

What will Google+ do with Katango's algorithms?  We'll find out soon.

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