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Why Do Social Networks 'Acqhire' vs Acquire Only To Super-Size?

Commericial acquisitions and mergers were a 20th Century phenomenon that allowed companies to grow and prosper. In the first and second decades of the 21st Century, those types of business practices may be antiquated. "Acqhire," is a neologism recently added to our lexicon to indicate when a social networking company is acquiring a start-up company mainly for its talent versus its infrastructure.

It's now used to gain access to a cool concept and the expertise of the people who created it. Attributed to Rex Hammock, who first coined the term on rexblog.com referring to Google's insatiable absorption of smaller start-up for their expertise.

The interest in this approach became so popular, that recruitment firms have gravitated towards this practice to surface job candidates for their clients. Acqhire Staff Inc., founded in 2009, developed an executive search service which specializes in supporting the hottest start-ups and leaders in technology with high-performance employees who have exhibited proven track records of success.

Oddly enough, however the most recent examples of 'Acqhir-istions' are more about stretching boundaries than reinforcing a social network's core principles. If we've learned anything in the last decade, 'brevity' appeared to be the leading motivator for both Twitter and Facebook users, and yet recent 'acquire cases' point to both networks' desire to "super-size" versus consolidate.

Twitter's decision to bring on the team at Vine allowed them to create an app that would produce six-second videos that would attach to tweets.Yes, six-seconds is a very short period of time, but coming from a company who's credo was brevity, it seems odd they would now add the caveat: "140 characters or less, plus 6-seconds of video."

In so doing, the ecosystem has expanded beyond it's original borders. Has this diminished, tarnished and/or diluted its central premise? Perhaps, for some. But according to the majority of reports and analyses, the critiques have been favorable.

"In just the two weeks since Vine launched on the iPhone, news outlets have used it to capture stories, brands have used it to create ads and contests, designers have used it to offer glimpses backstage during New York Fashion Week and big name-celebrities have used it to engage with their fans," notes Seth Fiegerman at Mashable.

While Facebook is receiving a tremendous amount of free advertisement from TV and the blogosphere pertaining to its soon-to-launch redesign of its popular "news feed," a story that's slipped in under the radar is their recent 'acqhire' of the team from Storylane, a CMS platform.

Bringing Storylane's five employees into its fold, including its chief executive officer Jonathan Gheller, Facebook has announced it will "wind down" the Storylane service to acquire Storylane's robust data.

Ironically Storylane's original raison d'être was to be a foil to social networks that wouldn't allow you to express yourself thoroughly. Instead, the site pushed users to develop longer and more in-depth stories about their lives and interests, allowing them to showcase their real-identity through "sincere and meaningful" content.

Now, in order for Mark Zuckerberg et al to make this type of move, it would appear there will be more than just a shift in the visual redesign of the new "news feed" to perhaps include status entries the length of short Jonathan GhellerJonathan Ghellernovellas?

While Gheller doesn't lend any additional insight as to what these changes will look like, he does hint at "elaboration" becoming a key motivator. “This is an exciting opportunity. Facebook’s mission of connecting the world has always been at the center of our work, and like our friends at Facebook, meaningful connections are what our team is most passionate about,” Mr. Gheller wrote in the blog post.

So, do we look at these changes as necessary enhancements or as two social networks becoming so big, they need to expand their borders in order to attract more followers? And in so doing, do they lose the base of earlier adapters that joined ranks because of something they learned from a Medieval Bard? Your thoughts, readers?