Facebook has bought Parakey, a startup run by Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt, co-founders of the Mozilla Firefox open-source web browser, marking the popular social networking website’s first acquisition. The two will work on the development of Facebook Platform and the site.

Parakey has been in the works for a couple of years, and aims to bridge the gap between information on the web and the desktop by providing a platform for tools that can manipulate just about anything on a hard drive — e-mail, photos, videos, recipes, calendars.

“This may be something to position it even broader than the Facebook platform,” said Sterling Market Intelligence Principal Greg Sterling. “It’s a bigger play. It moves Facebook potentially from social network to something much larger, if it’s successful.”
The move comes nearly two months after the Facebook Platform was launched, enabling companies and developers to build applications for the Facebook website, where users can interact with them. Facebook, which initially was available only for US college students, has grown its audience by more than 500% in the last six months after it opened up registration to virtually anyone in the world.