Twitter Fetches Location Tracking Start-Up “Mixer Labs” To Its Arsenal

December 29, 2009 0

Los Angeles — Popular micro-blogging website Twitter is acquiring the location tracking start-up “Mixer Labs,” in an attempt to enable users to map their Twitter posts to specific locations on maps and other tools, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition would facilitate the site to enhance the “contextual” relevance of location to tweets — messages posted on the site which can have a maximum of 140 characters.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mixer Labs, founded by two ex-Google employees, who have developed a location-tracking tool called GeoAPI. Twitter chief executive Evan Williams said the deal would allow Twitter users to indicate people where they are when they post updates to the site.

He explained that GeoAPI could prove helpful by showing where people are as they share what they are seeing or experiencing.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog: “When current location is added to tweets, new and valuable services emerge — everything from breaking news to finding friends or local businesses can be dramatically enhanced.”

“Our efforts in this field has just begun. Today, we are excited to announce a major new step into the location-aware future.”

The application will also enable users to search where an event is happening, the firm said. “As a dramatic example, twittering ‘Earthquake!’ alone is not as informative as ‘Earthquake!‘ coupled with your current location.”

Williams envisioned scenarios where users’ tweets are automatically mapped to their location or to the subject of their post.

“We want to know what is taking place, and, more precisely, where it is taking place,” said Williams.

Mixer Labs’ GeoAPI is employed by developers behind numerous geo-enabled apps, including Birdfeed, Seesmic Web, Foursquare, Gowalla, Twidroid, and Twittelator Pro.

While such apps delivers useful location based information, some critics have said that location-aware devices and software raise privacy concerns, as they empower companies to track users’ physical movements.

Williams, however, said the technology will enhance the Twitter experience.

“We look forward to building features together that will make Twitter even more interesting and relevant to your daily life, no matter where you are,” said Williams.

Twitter has recently signed deals with Microsoft and Google that allows the two tech titans to access to its data for use in their search engines, Facebook has also agreed a similar deal. Silicon Valley speculation suggested that the site could be charging Google $15m (£9.3m) and Microsoft $10m (£6.2m) for use of the data — leading to the idea that the startup could be making a profit.

An estimated 58 million people use Twitter around the world. The company which is situated in San Francisco, has collected about $155m (£97.1m) from investors since its inception in 2006.

Both entities together would develop features that would make the micro-blogging site more interesting and “relevant to daily life,” irrespective of one’s location.

Williams said Mixer Labs’ current staffers would join Twiitter workers at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.