Twitter buys start-up founded by former Instagram and Facebook staff

19 Feb 2020

Image: © Aleksei/

Twitter will acquire Chroma Labs, the start-up behind a template editing app for Stories.

On Tuesday (18 February), it emerged that social media giant Twitter is set to acquire Chroma Labs, a visual storytelling start-up founded by former Facebook and Instagram employees.

Founded in 2018, Chroma Labs has developed the Chroma Stories app – a tool that the company says has been used by creators and businesses to “create millions of stories” with layout templates, collages and other features.

Chroma Labs confirmed the news on its website, saying that its team of seven employees is looking forward “to continuing our mission at a larger scale – with one of the most important services in the world”.

The acquisition

Twitter declined to comment on the terms of the deal, but confirmed that all seven Chroma Labs employees will be joining Twitter’s Conversations division. There is now some speculation that Twitter could be using the acquisition to develop a ‘stories’ feature akin to Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

Bloomberg noted that Twitter has made improving conversations on the social media platform a top priority in recent months. It recently changed the way that user interactions appear in the app, while adding new features such as emoji replies to direct messaging.

As part of the acquisition, Chroma Labs will shut down its business and will launch no further versions of Chroma Stories, meaning that there will be no more updates to the app. It’s estimated that Chroma Stories had 37,000 downloads before the acquisition.

Twitter product lead and Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour said that he is “thrilled” to welcome the “amazing” Chroma Labs team. Beykpour tweeted: “They’ll join our product, design and eng teams working to give people more creative ways to express themselves on Twitter.”

The Chroma Labs team

John Barnett, Alex Li and Joshua Harris founded Chroma Labs in 2018 to develop creative editing tools after working on products at Facebook. The start-up secured funding from investors such as Index Ventures, Sweet Capital and Combine VC.

Li, who served as Chroma Labs CTO, previously worked as an engineering manager at Facebook Photos and Instagram Stories, while Harris was a product design manager on the Oculus Rift and Facebook’s AR filters.

Barnett helped to launch Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, and also worked on Facebook’s camera and AI teams as well as on Facebook’s applied machine learning team.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic