Google Hires Team Behind Online Travel Guide Ruba (Updated)

According to this blog post, Google has acquired online travel guide and community Ruba. Ruba is a visual travel guide and tour review site that provides travelers with visual guides written by other travelers. The blog post is embedded below. UPDATE: Google tells us that they didn’t actually acquire Ruba, but the team behind Ruba will be joining the Google team to work on iGoogle and other projects.

Ruba offer users a way to visually browse through cities and their attractions around the world, offering photo-rich guides and an emphasis on making it easy to quickly discover new locations. The site is headed by Mike Cassidy, who has founded a number of successful companies, including Xfire, which sold to Viacom in 2006 for $102 million.

Guides are all written and submitted by users, with Ruba pulling from Google and Flickr APIs to help pinpoint locations and provide some sample photos (users can submit their own, too). The site, which is similar in some ways to TripAdvisor, features integration with Twitter and Facebook Connect, allowing users to broadcast where they’re headed and ask friends for input.

Google has been reportedly making a significant move to enter the online travel business, integrating hotel links into Maps and listing hotels with room rates. The search giant is also supposedly in talks to buy fare shopping software ITA software, according to the USA Today.

Hi friends, fans, and Ruba community members – exciting news from the Ruba team. We are thrilled to announce our team will be joining Google! As of Monday, May 24, we’ll be moving into the Google headquarters. We are totally excited to be joining such an amazing company.

For the past 15 months, we’ve worked to create a unique and fun visual travel site and community focused on guides, photos, maps, and interactive tour listings to improve the online travel research experience. The Ruba community has written amazing travel reviews which have inspired our own journeys and hopefully yours as well.

We want to thank the entire Ruba community (guide writers, local experts, bloggers, and more) for all you’ve done along the way. We’d also like to thank our tour operator partners for sharing their tours on our site. Thank you for sharing your feedback, ideas, and of course your travel tips and experiences with our community.