Google expands social networking push with Angstro buy

Google continues to aggressively pursue social-networking capabilities, this time with the acquisition of Angstro.

Angstro is a small organization with a few products including Noteworthy News, a service that delivers news about people and companies in a user’s professional network.

Rohit Khare, one of the founders of the company, briefly noted the acquisition Thursday in a blog post entitled “Our work here is done…”, which was first noticed by the L.A. Times.

“While our work here may be done, the struggle for open, interoperable social networks is still only just beginning, and I’m looking forward to working on that in my new role at Google,” Khare wrote.

Google confirmed the acquisition but declined to comment on how it planned to use Angstro technologies.

Khare said the idea behind Angstro came about four years ago when he set out to address a problem he had after signing up to receive Google Alerts for Adam Rifkin, with whom Khare had started a company previously. Nearly all the alerts Khare received were for a different Adam Rifkin: a Hollywood movie director. Noteworthy News was designed to deliver more accurate news about people connected to users.

The company opened a public beta of Noteworthy News in late 2009 but abruptly shut it down on Aug. 20 this year. “We have decided to explore other options for Angstro, Inc. with third parties, thus we are shutting down the service and destroying any personally identifiable information (PII) retained by Noteworthy News,” Khare and co-founder Salim Ismail wrote at the time.

Angstro has offered other products as well, including, essentially a centralized address book that combines all of a user’s connections from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr and others.

Disco Explorer is another service from Angstro that let users more easily search through data like status updates and photos that users upload to Facebook. Neither service is currently accessible online; it’s unclear if they are still available.

Angstro marks the fourth company that Google has acquired this month. It bought Slide, a social games developer; Jambool, a company that makes a platform for managing online payment for virtual goods sold on gaming and social networking sites; and, a visual shopping engine.

Analysts and onlookers continue to speculate that Google plans to release a new social networking tool, potentially centered on games, to compete with Facebook.

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