Twitter Acquires Social Startup Spindle

Published on June 19, 2013
by Mike Isaac

02_Spindle_RecentUpdates_iPhoneTwitter has acquired Spindle, a social startup focused on the location and check-in space, and discovering local places of interest nearby.

“We’ve spent the past two and a half years building a product that helps you answer the question: ‘What’s happening nearby right now?'” Spindle said in a company blog post. “Every time we’ve experimented and looked beyond local discovery, we’ve been amazed by the breadth and quality of content shared on Twitter.”

“By joining forces with Twitter, we can do so much more to help you find interesting, timely, and useful information about what’s happening around you,” the company said.

I’ve been rather interested in Spindle since I first covered the service last year. The brainchild of a group of ex-Microsoft search engineers, Spindle pitched itself as a “tacit” mobile search application. Essentially, the app sifted through the torrent of data that streamed through the social Web — from places like Facebook and Twitter — on a minute-by-minute basis, and would deliver users local points of interest like restaurants or stores based on tweets, location and time of day. It was a way of fine-tuning the local discovery experience from the mobile device.

“We ingest data from lots of different sources, spooling them into the structured search system,” Pat Kinsel, a vet of Microsoft’s FUSE Labs who worked on Facebook-Bing integration, told me back in August. “Ultimately, it produces a better thread on the other side.”

SpindleLogo_GreenSince Twitter is shutting down the service, I’d expect that the team of engineers will be working in a similar area focused on local discovery. Though I’d assume it’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples, Spindle-to-Twitter implementation.

My guess? Twitter may focus that talent on fleshing out local discovery features to add to the microblogging service, a feature we reported that the company was testing months ago. Twitter is dabbling with how to better make use of data like location information, surrounding tweets from nearby users and points of interest that are occurring close to you. The team at Spindle seems especially well-suited for a task such as this.

That’s probably something that Foursquare will want to take note of, considering the check-in-based startup has spent the past year pivoting into its own version of a local discovery app.

The Spindle team will relocate from their headquarters in Boston to Twitter’s offices in San Francisco as a result of the acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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