By Laurie Segall
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Facebook has agreed to buy photo sharing network Instagram for $1 billion in a combination of cash and stock, the company announced Monday.
It’s Facebook’s biggest acquisition ever, in both price and reach. With around 30 million active users, Instagram has the largest audience of any startup Facebook has purchased, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post.
“We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”
Founded in 2010 by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, Instagram has just a handful of employees supporting its wildly popular photo app. The long-awaited Android version, released last week, racked up more than 1 million downloads in just 12 hours.
Facebook likes to scoop up hot startups, kill their products, and redeploy their staff on other projects. That’s definitely not the plan for Instagram, all the players insist.
“It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away,” Instagram’s founders wrote on their company blog. “We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.”
Zuckerberg pressed the point.
“We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently,” the CEO said. “Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”
Facebook, which is in the process of going public, ended 2011 with a cash stash just shy of $4 billion.