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Facebook hires staff of smartphone photo-sharing firm

By Salvador Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — In another move to beef up its mobile offering, Facebook has hired the entire staff of Lightbox, a tiny start-up known for its popular photo-sharing app for Android smartphones.

The hiring of the seven-person team at Lightbox comes as the social network nears what is expected to be the largest ever Internet initial public offering.

Investors have been weighing the value of Facebook and have questioned how well it will be able to generate ad revenue from mobile devices.

Facebook made more than $3 billion off of ads seen on its laptop and desktop website in 2011 but has not yet figured out how to monetize its 500 million mobile app users.

“The Lightbox team has incredible experience developing innovative mobile products that people love,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to welcoming this world-class team of engineers to Facebook.”

Last month, Facebook spent $1 billion to acquire Instagram, a popular Apple-based photo sharing mobile app with more than 30 million users.

Lightbox’s founders announced the hiring on the company’s blog Tuesday.

“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(plus) million mobile users,” the mobile app’s founders, Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel, wrote in the post.

As for Lightbox, the start-up will cease operations. It will no longer be allowing new sign-ups, and current users will have until June 15 to download their pictures. Tran and Patel also wrote that parts of Lightbox’s code will be shared on Github, an open-source website.

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