Around the same time it started listing its shares on NASDAQ, Facebook announced that it had acquired social gifting app maker Karma for a reported $80 million+, making it one of the company’s largest purchases to date.

It was also decidedly not merely a talent acquisition, as the social networking giant repeatedly pointed out. Indeed, a well-informed source tells The Next Web that Facebook is now gearing up to launch a social gift-giving service of its own.

What we’ve learned:

– Facebook’s social gifting product will debut some time in the next few weeks
– Evidently, it will be based on Karma’s (still available) offering
– It will only be available in the United States at launch (as Karma was)
– The move is primarily meant to beef up Facebook’s mobile monetization efforts

What we don’t know:

– If it will roll out to all Facebook users in the United States at once, or in phases
– If and when Facebook plans to expand it to other countries
– How similar the new Facebook-branded service will be to Karma’s existing offering
– What the effect of the move will be on Facebook-reliant social gift-giving app makers such as Wrapp, Wantful, DropGifts and Give.it.

For the record, Facebook declined to confirm the impending launch, but we wouldn’t dare run this report if our information wasn’t coming from a solid source.

For what it’s worth, a Facebook spokesperson tells us that “as a common practice, Facebook does not comment on speculation around future products”.

But, as Mark Zuckerberg so eloquently put it recently, they’re very focused on trying to make ‘more money on mobile than on desktop’ down the line.

This kind of project would fit into its strategy quite well.

Update - oh and look what InsideFacebook found last night:

gifts Good Karma! Facebook to launch social gifting app in the US in a matter of weeks

I asked Andreas Ehn, former CTO of Spotify and now co-founder of Sweden’s Wrapp (earlier coverage), to share his thoughts, and he delivered:

“I think Karma was a good acquisition for Facebook. They desperately need mobile talent and they’re getting that with Lee Linden and Ben Lewis (ex-Tapjoy), who are experienced in monetizing mobile apps.

We’re in different businesses. Karma is an e-commerce platform for selling (mostly) physical goods to consumers. Wrapp is a friend-to-friend marketing platform for tier-1 retailers.

Also Karma is only available in parts of the US, whereas Wrapp is global. Karma is for special occasions; Wrapp was created to make gift giving a daily event. So it’s quite different, and if anything we welcome more activity in the space. :)”

Duly noted. Stay tuned for more as we learn more.

Related reading on The Next Web and other publications:

Facebook launches Shared Activity plugin to help users control what they are sharing through apps

Facebook promises to update its mobile apps every 4 to 8 weeks

Facebook updates Offers with new barcode and advertising features to push more deals into user News Feeds

Reuters: Facebook to charge merchants to run offers

TechCrunch: Facebook Beta Launches New Mobile Ad Network Using Your Data To Target You With Banner Ads In Other Apps

(Image credit: FABRICE COFFRINI for AFP / Getty Images)