g++: Google Acquires Privacy-Centric Social Network ‘Fridge’

When Google+ launched late last month, touting a heavy focus on privacy and making sure you’re only sharing content with the people you mean to, my mind drifted back to a pair of startups that launched with similar ambitions. Specifically: Multiply and Fridge.

Multiply has since shifted to focus more on e-commerce and is now owned by Naspers, but YC-funded Fridge has been chugging away since it launched last August, giving users a way to share their private photos and status updates with their closest friends in relative safety. At least, they were chugging along til last week, when the company abruptly announced that it was shutting down the service.

Today, we know why: Fridge has announced that it’s been acquired by Google, and part of the team will now be working on Google+. Which makes perfect sense, given how much overlap the two products have — they both revolve around selective sharing. You can find more details on Fridge’s product in our launch post about the service.

This is the second time Google+ has scooped up startup talent in as many days — it also hired the team of JustSpotter (Update: Google didn’t actually acquire JustSpotter, but it did hire the team).

From an email the Fridge team has sent out:

We are pleased to announce that the Fridge team will be joining Google!

It has been an amazing ride developing Fridge, but most importantly we are very thankful to our enthusiastic community of users. We strongly believe in the group social experience and couldn’t think of a better place to realize our vision of bringing the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web as part of the Google+ Project.

Fridge is closing up shop — the team will be folded into Google+, where we’ll continue some of our efforts. We heard you loud and clear over the weekend, so we’re expanding the time during which your Fridge data will be available for offloading. While you will no longer be able to post anything new to Fridge, you will still be able to download and save your data until Saturday August 20, 2011 at 6pm ET. After that, in accordance with our privacy policy, we will delete all user data.

If you’d like to check out Google+, please fill out this form and we will send you an invite. We’ll send invites out in a few waves, and they’ll come from the Fridge Repairman (repairman@frid.ge).

We look forward to continuing the vision of creating fresh and exciting social group experiences for users across the web.

Keep on keeping it fresh from the Fridge team, and see you on Google+.

Note that while Fridge had initially said users would only have til July 19 to back up their data, they’ve now set the expiration date to a month out.

Also note: a few months after Fridge originally launched, Facebook introduced its revamped Groups feature, which has quite a few similarities.