Facebook Hires Team From Android Photosharing App Dev Lightbox To Quiet Mobile Fears

Comment

Facebook has just closed a deal to hire the all the employees (except for one) from Android photosharing app developer Lightbox, which should reduce worries that mobile will be its downfall. The Lightbox Photos app developed by the 500 Startups company automatically created personal photo blogs from a user’s uploads. But now it will be shut down, has already been stripped from Google’s Play marketplace, and people have until June 15th to download their photos.

Along with the Instagram buy, the last-minute-before-IPO Lightbox hires will help assure investors that Facebook will do what it takes to win the very mobile-centric future of social networking. But the Lightbox talent acquisition still doesn’t illuminate how Facebook will make more money off of little screens.

Lightbox had taken a total of $1.2 million in funding from 500 Startups as well as Index Ventures, Accel Partners, SV Angel, and several angels. In a statement to TechCrunch regarding the talent acquisition, Facebook said “The Lightbox team has incredible experience developing innovative mobile products that people love. We look forward to welcoming this world-class team of engineers to Facebook.”

Facebook has been frequently criticized for the slowness of its mobile apps. This talent acquisition of engineers could help it speed things up.

Lightbox developed consumer Android mobile apps. It’s first app Lightbox Photos cloud-hosted the photos from your Android device and synced them to your Android. It was designed to replace your Android camera app. When we covered it in December, Sarah Perez called Lightbox a lazy man’s Tumblr.

One problem with Instagram was that its content was very siloed. Users could only engage with its photos through its apps or on other social networks. There was no mobile site or website where you could comment or Like Instagrams.

But Lightbox auto-generates full-featured photo blogs with their own vanity URLs from a user’s uploads, so your friends and followers could interact with your photos from any interface. This understanding of the need for wide-accessibility will serve Facebook well.

While this talent acquisition should bolster confidence in Facebook’s mobile product, it doesn’t answer the question of how its going to to turn mobile into a massive revenue stream. Those two go together, though. The better the mobile product, the more mobile ads Facebook can get away with.

Similar to Instagram, Lightbox wasn’t just a photosharing app, but also a community where people browsed each other’s mini-masterpieces. However, Facebook won’t be adding that community to its 500+ million mobile population. Just Lightbox’s talent is joining the big blue social network, not the tech or users.

Some loyal Lightbox are already expressing their dismay about the app shutting down. Facebook was smart offer the one-month data portability period. If it keeps up this rate of acquisitions and acqui-hires, it will need to be considerate to the independent user communities it’s displacing.


Here’s the full statements from Lightbox’s blog:

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.

This means we’re no longer accepting new signups. If you’re an existing user, you can continue to use Lightbox.com until June 15 and you can download your photos from here.

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.

We’d like to thank the Lightbox community, our investors, and our families for supporting us during this journey.

Thai Tran & Nilesh Patel
Co-founders, Lightbox

\


More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

18 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

19 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android