Mike Isaac

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Facebook “Acqhires” Mobile Photo-Sharing Company Lightbox

Talk about getting in under the wire.

In what may be the last headcount addition before Facebook’s forthcoming multibillion-dollar IPO, Facebook “acqhired” the full team from mobile photo-sharing service Lightbox on Tuesday, continuing its mini-spree of snapping up engineering talent and companies.

“The Lightbox team has incredible experience developing innovative mobile products that people love,” Facebook told AllThingsD. “We look forward to welcoming this world-class team of engineers to Facebook.”

It’s also something of a reunion for CTO and mobile head honcho Bret Taylor. As he noted on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Taylor worked on Maps with Lightbox co-founder Thai Tran, back when both were Googlers.

It’s not an acquisition. All seven members of the London-based Lightbox will join the company, but Facebook won’t acquire user data previously held by the service.

Users will have until June 15 to download their information from Lightbox, after which the company will shut down the service. After that, Lightbox says, the company will be open-sourcing some of its code for Lightbox, and posting it to Github for all to see and use.

So it’s obviously another step toward figuring out mobile for Facebook. The company realizes it needs mobile talent; Facebook acquired mobile discovery start-up Glancee last week, and of course bought Instagram last month for a whopping $1 billion.

Facebook is smart to bring on more minds that are focused on the problem of mobile. It’s mostly for product building, no doubt, but perhaps some of these hires will move toward making mobile a proper revenue stream for the company.

It’s also worth noting that Lightbox was predominantly focused not just on mobile, but on coding for the Android platform. The seven-man team, then, could be a perfect boon to Facebook’s Android brainpower. Instagram, on the other hand, was iOS for the majority of its existence, only recently releasing an Android application after hiring more engineers to tackle Android.

And in today’s mobile landscape, everyone needs Android-specific engineering talent. The platform accounts for more than half of smartphone market share in the U.S., while nearly broaching 50 percent of smartphone platform share globally, according to Canalys.

The most important thing gained? The newly hired Lightbox team’s bragging rights. Who else can say they were Facebook’s last talent grab before going public?

(Photo of Lightbox team members Nilesh Patel and partners at Mobile World Congress in February, courtesy of Lightbox.)


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work