NEW YORK - It's a lot of money by any standard. Facebook is spending $1 billion on Instagram -- the photo-sharing company. It's the largest ever acquisition by the social networking site. And the money goes to buy a tiny startup that only has a few workers -- and no way to make money.
Instagram lets people share photos they snap with their mobile devices. The app has filters that can make photos look as if they've been taken in the 1970s or on Polaroid cameras.
In a little more than a year, Instagram attracted a loyal user base of more than 30 million people. Apple picked it as the iPhone App of the Year in 2011. That kind of fan support, brand recognition and potential, you can't really put a price tag on. Actually you can -- and for Facebook that price was a cool billion bucks.