What Is Flock, Zynga's Newest Acquisition?

Flock is the biggest web browser that you've never heard of -- until now. Founded in 2005, Flock has built up a community of ten million users over nearly six years; it's never found mainstream success, but has always had enough support to maintain itself. That support comes from users who value the social web experience that Flock works to provide. (RockMelt, a recent launch, explored a similar idea.)

Built using Mozilla Firefox's open-source browser and then Chromium, Flock makes sharing and communicating with your social network as easy as possible. After installing Flock, your browser includes a sidebar that streams updates and comments from your friends on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and a handful of other existing, popular networks. You can also set the browser to display feeds from some of your favorites websites and blogs. If you fear that your feed will quickly clog with that much data streaming into it, organize them into a variety of folders.

Sharing videos, photos, and articles on Flock is easy; it just requires the click of a single mouse or keyboard button. And whenever you search using a modified Google search, Flock displays standard results but also shows you what your friends are saying about your search terms and the pages they point you to. This is an extension of the Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg philosophy that people will be more interested in something if three friends recommend it than they will be if 10,000 strangers do the same.

Flock's user base is likely to grow exponentially as soon as Zynga, the social media gaming company best known for creating FarmVille and CityVille, figures out how to best use its newest acquisition. Earlier this evening, Flock's CEO Shawn Hardin confirmed earlier rumors that his company has been bought by Zynga on his blog, but the details have not been disclosed. Google and Twitter were both bidding on the browser, TechCrunch reported, "perhaps to get Flock's engineering talent, which is very highly regarded."

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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