Facebook Acquires Mobile Advertising Company Out of Stealth Mode

Facebook has acquired Rel8tion and the employees of the nine-month-old Seattle-based start-up, which has been working under the radar to develop a hyper-local mobile advertising service.

Facebook confirmed the acquisition in a statement: “We’re excited to confirm that we recently completed a talent acquisition of Rel8tion, a stealth-mode startup in Seattle. The engineering team will join our growing Seattle office, and we’re looking forward to having them on board.”

Rel8tion was started in part by Peter Wilson, who has dabbled in just about every major company that has set up shop in Seattle.

In addition to his responsibilities at Rel8tion, he was spending one day a week assisting Facebook with setting up its Seattle office. He will now be an engineering director.

Prior to that, Wilson was an engineering director at Google for four years, helping to ramp up Google’s Kirkland, Wash.-based engineering center. He also spent nine years at Microsoft, working on Microsoft Windows, XP, MSN and Visual Studio in a variety of roles.

There’s not much information about the company, but according to the little information available on its site, it was trying to create a system for synching up a person’s location and demographics with the most relevant ad inventory.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the role the Rel8tion employees would play at the company, or on the terms of the deal.

Another founder, Scott Hannan, was previously a consultant for Microsoft, and worked as VP of Business Development at Pelago–which operates the mobile social network Whrrl–and Nat Brown, who is listed as the company’s CTO. Brown was previously VP of Technology at Myspace in Seattle and CTO of iLike.

Despite Facebook having a gigantic mobile audience, it has yet to monetize that traffic through advertising. With its introduction of Facebook Places, which allows users to check-in at local establishments and find local deals, you can only expect more is coming.

While both Apple and Google have made big bets in mobile advertising with large acquisitions of Quattro Wireless and AdMob, respectively, this can’t really be put in the same category given its relative size.


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