Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Facebook Gift Event Also Gets Blown Out of NYC by Hurricane Sandy

And the hits — and not happy ones — keep on coming with the imminent approach of Hurricane Sandy to New York City.

Along with cancellation of tomorrow’s Google Android product event and postponement of our latest All Things Digital conference, D: Dive Into Mobile, which was set to take place tomorrow and on Tuesday, Facebook is also now putting the kibosh on two events it was planning in Manhattan this week.

The first is a Tuesday engineering open house that was planned for the social networking site’s New York HQ in mid-town. And, more importantly, its larger Gifts event at FAO Schwartz is now off too.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the cancellations.

Facebook was set to unveil retail partnerships at the media gathering to “come see what’s new with Facebook Gifts,” after announcing the ability to buy physical gifts for other users last month.

It is the company’s major initiative into the world of social gift giving and e-commerce.

As Mike Isaac wrote when it was announced in late September:

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Users can choose, mail and pay for real-world, physical gifts — not the lame virtual ones Facebook offered a few years ago — to send to one another, all completely inside of Facebook. They’re tied to the significant event reminders that pop up on occasion — say, a friend’s anniversary, or a birthday. Or even better for Facebook, users can also just buy gifts for others for the heck of it.

It’s a major undertaking for Facebook, tackling an entire new segment of online commerce and adding a brand new revenue stream to its business. And to a degree, we’ve known it was coming for some time — after all, on the same day Facebook went public, it acquired Karma, the social gifting application upon which all of Gifts is based and built.

Perhaps more significant, however, is that users aren’t limited to just the desktop to send and receive gifts; the entire Gifts program is accessible on mobile phones.

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What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard.

— Mark Pagel, fellow of the Royal Society and professor of evolutionary biology, in conversation with Edge.org