Peter Kafka at Recode (née AllThingsD) has the details, and Branch founder Josh Miller has the Facebook post (natch) to announce it.
After two years building Branch and Potluck, I am thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our mission at Facebook!
We will be forming Facebook’s Conversations group, based in New York City, with the goal of helping people connect with others around their interests. Their pitch to us was: “Build Branch at Facebook scale!”
Although the products we build will be reminiscent of Branch and Potluck, those services will live on outside of Facebook. A more thoughtful note and details to come soon but I am writing this haphazardly from a mountain in Japan (I was tipped that the story was going to leak while on vacation).
Jay Rosen has a take:
(While Miller says Branch and Potluck “will live on outside of Facebook,” this sort of acquisition often ends with a quiet shutdown six months later. This smells a lot like an acquihire.)
Personally, I always liked the ideas behind Branch — structured conversations that are both open and curated, where discussion is as much a first-class citizen as content. When Branches went well, they could be great. But it never got anything close to the traction a community-based site would need. (Potluck didn’t interest me as much, beyond its status as another attempt to figure out the right UX for news on phones.) Here’s our 2012 Q&A with Miller about Branch and our story on the Potluck pivot in November.