Keith Bedford/Bloomberg NewsKevin Systrom, chief executive of Instagram.
Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, which is expected to go public next month.
Facebook is not waiting for its initial public offering to make its first big purchase.
In its largest acquisition to date, the social network has purchased Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application, for about $1 billion in cash and stock, the company said Monday.
It’s a notable move for Facebook, which has exclusively focused on bite-size acquisitions, worth less than $100 million.
With Instagram, Facebook will get a formidable mobile player – an area that is seen as a weakness for the sprawling social network. Founded two years ago, the service — which lets users share photos and apply stylized filters – has become one of the most downloaded applications on the iPhone, with some 30 million users. Instagram released a version of its application for Google’s Android operating system last week.
In a post on his profile page, Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg said Instagram would continue to work with rival social networks. That will allow users to post on other services, follow users outside of Facebook, and to opt out of sharing on Facebook.
“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”
“We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.
“That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. 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.
“We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. 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.
“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.
“This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. 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.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together