Users who jump onto the Lightbox website this afternoon will be surprised with a short message declaring that the Lightbox team is joining Facebook. Over on the Lightbox blog, Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel, the co-founders of Lightbox, posted a thank-you and farewell to their loyal user community. From the blog post:
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.
The blog post does not make it clear, but according to AllThingsD, all seven of Lightbox's employees have been hired by Facebook. Considering this news and Facebook's recent purchase of Instagram, it is obvious that Facebook is planning to aggressively expand both its mobile and photo-sharing capabilities in the near future. The timing of the hirings also comes just before Facebook's imminent IPO, meaning that the company might be trying to bolster investor confidence in its mobile division.
What does this mean for Lightbox? Well, obviously, it means the company has no employees. As for specifics, Tran and Patel stated in their blog post that, as of today, the company will no loger be accepting new signups. Existing users may continue to use Lightbox until June 15. The company has, thankfully, provided users with a convenient way to download all of their photos.
If there is a silver lining to be seen in this story for Lightbox users, it might be that Facebook has not purchased Lightbox itself, but simply hired the employees. What that means is Tran and Patel have promised to open source portions of the Lightbox code and post them in a Github repository. In other words, it won't be long before a Lightbox clone is up and running.
If you have never used LIghtbox, you can take a look at the video below and get an idea of how it works. If you are a Lightbox user, feel free to watch and begin your nostalgic reminiscing early.