Facebook scoops up Branch for new 'conversations'

Branch Media is headed up by Josh Miller, who was once openly critical of Facebook. 

Branch, pictured here, has reportedly been acquired by Facebook.

Facebook has acquired the Branch and Potluck platforms in a deal worth a reported $15 million. 

Both Branch and Potluck were created by Branch Media, a New York company led by Princeton-dropout Josh Miller. Potluck, which went live last summer, is a link-sharing service; Branch, a "conversation platform," can be used to create instant comment threads.

Branch Media was backed by Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter and Jonah Peretti of Buzzfeed, among other investors. 

"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," Miller wrote in a Facebook post. "[Facebook's] 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," he added

Of course, as Anna Prior of The Wall Street Journal notes today, this represents something of a turnaround for Miller, who once gained a good deal of notoriety for calling Facebook "an irreversibly bad brand."

Later, he wrote a post for Medium titled "Why I'm Bullish on Facebook," in which he argued that while the amount of content shared on Facebook was shrinking, the platform was far from "dead and buried."

He may be on to something. As the analytics firm Global Web Index has noted, Facebook usage among teens does seem to be down across the board. For instance, in Q1 of 2013, 76 percent of US teens said they were active on Facebook. By Q3 of 2013, that number had dropped to 56 percent. 

Facebook, for its part, has acknowledged the decline. 

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