The Heat Is On: Eye-Tracking Startup GazeHawk Founders Join Facebook; Product/Tech Looks For A Home

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Yet another talent acquisition by Facebook: the social network is taking on the team behind GazeHawk, a two-year-old Y Combinator startup that uses a computer’s webcam to track eye movements and then plot them on a heatmap.

But unlike past occasions when Facebook has bought companies for the people behind them and subsequently shut down the services they built up (a notable recent case being Gowalla), in this case the product and technology are being left behind.

“GazeHawk has developed a best-of-class technology that does not exist anywhere else, and is committed to seeing it continue to provide benefits to others. The team welcomes suggestions and thoughts on potential options at team@gazehawk.com,” the two founders, Brian Krausz and Joe Gershenson, write in a post announcing the Facebook deal.

That technology is the kind of thing sold on to web designers and potentially could be very useful not only in figuring out the best way of laying out a page of information, but for more commercial ends, to track how display ads and other units are taken in by users.

The deal raises questions of what, exactly, Facebook might do with Krausz’s, Gershenson’s and the rest of their small team’s know-how.

The two do not really elaborate on this, writing in their post that Facebook had been “impressed with our ability to build out a powerful technology and platform.” They also note that they will be working “most likely on product and backend engineering.” Like other new hires, they may also go through a bootcamp as a first step.

So it might not be exactly the eye-tracking techniques pioneered at GazeHawk that we will see appear at Facebook, but given that the company is effectively rethinking what is being done on the web with advertising and marketing — how it is measured, delivered and consumed — the idea of putting in a team that could potentially work at the cutting edge of how to track the third of these makes perfect sense.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.