Facebook “Acquihires” Photo-Sharing Site Lightbox To Bolster Its Mobile Team

By May 18, 2012

Lightbox, the rather beautiful photo sharing startup, announced on its company blog that the team will be joining Facebook. It indicated that it will work with the Facebook mobile team to improve user experience.

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’re happy to announce that the Lightbox team is joining Facebook, where we’ll have the opportunity to build amazing products for Facebook’s 500+ million mobile users.


Facebook is not acquiring the company or any of the user data hosted on Lightbox.com. In the coming weeks, we will be open sourcing portions of the code we’ve written for Lightbox and posting them to our Github repository.

The site will cease operations on June 15th. The company will not be accepting new signups, but current users of the site can download their images here. There has been an outpouring of sad, Facebook-themed images (including the one at the top of this post) on the company’s live photo stream.

The app is very similar to Instagram, which everyone and their little brother already knows Facebook acquired for a cool $1 billion. Users were able to snap photos (duh), apply filters, geolocate the photo, and identify the place where it was taken, as well as share photos across their social networks. Lightbox also built out a website where users could view and interact with photos from their computers, which Instagram never managed to do, thereby leaving opportunities for third-party Instagram web clients like Pinstagram (yes, it’s a thing). Lightbox was the Android counterpart to Instagram, and enjoyed moderate popularity before Instagram released an Android version of its app, which went on to become one of the fastest-downloaded apps in the history of the Android platform.

Lightbox is the most recent of the months-long spate of so-called “acquihires” by Facebook. On Monday, I reported on Facebook’s recent overhaul of how photos are displayed across its mobile apps. Lightbox is the second mobile photo sharing company acquired by Facebook in the past two months. I recently discussed the oft-mentioned war over the mobile web being waged in the Valley:

If the ubiquity of camera-equipped mobile phones has made photos – the sharing, editing and display thereof – a central battleground in this war.

At least for now, competition is under pressure as Facebook pushes out the front lines. And as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat Facebook, might as well join ’em.