Facebook Inc. said it is acquiring the popular photo-sharing app maker Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock in what is the social network’s biggest acquisition to date.
Instagram enables smartphone users to adjust the images taken with their phones through several easy to use pre-set filters. Instagram’s free downloadable software/app allows users to create more interesting photos to view and share, especially when posting to social networking sites such as Facebook.
The deal presents a quick bonanza for the startup, which was founded in the fall of 2010 by two Stanford University graduates and has just over a dozen employees.
Instagram is one of a cohort of young startups that have built products around smartphones and have registered incredibly fast growth in a short period of time.
On March 11, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom gave a keynote talk at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, where he announced that the company’s iPhone app had nearly doubled its number of registered users since December, going from 15 million users to 27 million users.
Last week, the company launched a version of its application that works on smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android system and instantly notched another big leg of growth. The company now says it has more than 30 million registered users.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg made clear in a statement that while he plans to integrate some aspects of Instagram into Facebook, he expects it to operate as an independent company.
“We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a statement. “At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.”