Facebook acquires New York-based social media start-up

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Facebook has acquired Branch, a social media start-up that provides online forums for insightful conversations.

The deal was announced by the start-up’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Josh Miller, who wrote in a blog post that they would be continuing their mission at Facebook.

The Princeton University dropout also revealed that his team would form a new “conversations group” for Facebook, which will help individuals “connect with others around their interests.”

He also noted that Branch and Potluck, a link-sharing iPhone app, will continue to operate independently of Facebook, adding that “Their pitch to us was: ‘Build Branch at Facebook scale!’”

While Miller refused to divulge the terms of the deal, The Verge reported that Facebook acquired Branch for US$15 million, while TechCrunch said the transaction was purely a talent acquisition.

Although the social media start-up has not been widely used, the company, Branch Media, became a poster child for the growing attractiveness of New York as a centre for start-ups.

In September 2011, the company was co-founded by Miller in a co-working space in lower Manhattan. The company relocated to San Francisco in January 2012 and later returned to Manhattan in March 2012, with Miller saying that New York’s “grit and grime” made it a better environment for the start-up.

Since its founding, Branch has raised only US$2 million, albeit from top investors such as Lerer Ventures and BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti as well as Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams.

Meanwhile, users of Branch were assured by Miller that the start-up would not be uprooted physically or virtually.