Los Angeles -- Its impending IPO has not deterred the social networking outfit Facebook down--or getting in the way of its strategy to become more mobile. The social media powerhouse Facebook moved quickly again to address concerns that it was not doing enough to satisfy mobile users, quickly snapped up mobile photo sharing startup Lightbox for an undisclosed sum.
Surprisingly, unlike the Instagram acquisition, this is just an acqui-hired deal, like all of Facebook's other buys. The social media giant has just acquired the employees from Lightbox, a London-based startup that developed a mobile photo sharing Android app. Essentially, the Lightbox Photos app was designed to replace your Android camera app by hosting the photos from your Android device in the cloud.
Besides, when nothing is under-wraps now, users who recently visited the Lightbox website will be astonished with a short message announcing that the Lightbox team is joining Facebook. Over on the Lightbox blog, Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel, the co-founders of Lightbox, posted a thank-you and farewell to their loyal user community.
Moving forward, Lightbox disclosed the move on its blog Tuesday. Facebook, meanwhile, released this statement: “The Lightbox team has incredible experience developing innovative mobile applications that people love. We look forward to welcoming this world-class team of engineers to Facebook.”
Here is the full announcement from Lightbox:
We started Lightbox because we were excited about creating new services built primarily for mobile, especially for the Android and HTML5 platforms, and we’re honored that millions of you have downloaded the Lightbox Photos app and shared your experiences with the Lightbox community.
Today, we are happy to disclose that the Lightbox team is joining Facebook, where we will have the opportunity to build amazing products for Facebook's 500+ million mobile users.
This means we are no longer accepting new signups. If you are an existing user, you can continue to use Lightbox.com until June 15 and you can download your photos from here.
However, the company also made it clear that Facebook was not acquiring the company or the photos that users had stored on the Lightbox website, just the developer team. In the coming weeks, we will be open sourcing portions of the code we have written for Lightbox and posting them to our Github repository.
We would like to thank the Lightbox community, our investors, and our families for supporting us during this journey.
Thai Tran & Nilesh Patel Co-founders, Lightbox
If you are a Lightbox user, you can download your photos from here: lightbox.com/export.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But, as part of the pact, Lightbox has seven employees and all of them will be moving to work for the social media giant. Additional details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but this appears to be a mainly talent acquisition; Facebook will not be getting user data previously held by the service.
Users reacted negatively to the announcement. “I liked [that] I could keep my lightbox works separate... else i would be spamming my fb every day with photos and that not only would be a mess, my friends would no longer be able to follow me or even find me amidst all that clutter. I am not pleased with this move,” wrote someone who identified himself as Peter Lamm.
Apparently, Lightbox is pretty identical to Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion at the beginning of April. Instagram was originally only an app for Apple iOS devices, but later released an Android version that nabbed 1 million downloads almost immediately.
Touting itself as 'the connected camera', Lightbox permits people to use their Android phone to take photos, apply filters, geolocate the photo, and identify the place where it was taken, as well as post to Twitter and Facebook, naturally. So far, however, Lightbox only runs in Android and HTML5 versions, meaning that the developers may be asked to beef up Facebook's Android application, which was recently boosted with larger photos.
See below for a demo of Lightbox’s technology: