SAN JOSE, Calif. — The most popular online photo-sharing service just got a whole lot more powerful.
Facebook said Monday that it will spend $1 billion to acquire the hugely popular mobile photo app Instagram. As Facebook prepares for an initial public offering of stock later this spring, the deal is the first major purchase by the world's most popular social network's of another online property with millions of users.
"For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family," Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post. "Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests."
Zuckerberg said Facebook would allow Instagram to keep its independence, including the ability to post photos to competing social networks including Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Google+.
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"We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote.
"These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience, and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram's experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook's strong engineering team and infrastructure."
Zuckerberg said the Instagram purchase is a significant milestone for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company.
"We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all," he said. "But providing the best photo-sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook, and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together."
For Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, the deal represents the amazing conclusion for a company that they founded just over two years ago to improve the sharing of smartphone photos. Instagram initially launched only for the iPhone, and it only recently added an app for Android devices.