Twitter acquires Lightwell to improve conversations


The folks behind Lightwell, the app creation engine launched by interactive storytelling startup Hullabalu in 2017, today revealed that they’ve been acqui-hired by Twitter for an undisclosed amount. In a statement made via Lightwell’s official Twitter account, the team says its work at Twitter will focus on the company’s conversations initiative.

Lightwell says that its toolset, which previously required a subscription, will be made available for free this week as part of the acquisition. Users won’t need to login or create an account, and they’ll be able to layout, prototype, and export to iOS without a plan. Published apps built with Lightwell won’t be affected, but the team notes that it’ll no longer actively support or add new features to Lightwell.

“We have been longtime passionate users of the product and after spending more time with the Twitter team, are incredibly energized to bring our experiences to further the mission of serving the public conversation. So, it’s fitting that we’re sharing the news with you here,” wrote Lightwell. “With your help, we built Lightwell into one of the most powerful design-to-production tools for mobile development.”

Lightwell

In recent months, Twitter has redoubled its efforts to make conversations among users easier to follow on its platform — and less toxic. Within its invite-only prototype mobile app, Twittr, it’s implemented new visuals intended to make replies more distinguishable from strung-together tweets, along with timelines connecting replies to other users within larger threads.

Color-coded and nested replies launched in beta earlier this year. More recently, in July, Twitter rolled out a feature in Canada that allows users to hide replies to their tweets, requiring those who wish to see and engage with them to tap on a grey icon.

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As for Lightwell, Hullabalu developed it to create an original story series for children called The Adventures of Pan, which became a top seller in over 38 countries and racked up millions of downloads. Lightwell enables designers to create and ship animations across devices without developers having to recreate them by hand in Apple’s Xcode development environment, with support for properties like ambient motion, rotation, layout constraints, and scroll views as well as screen transitions and audio mapping.

In an interview with TechCrunch two years ago, Hullabalu CEO Suzanne Xie said that media companies and creative agencies looking for a simpler way to build and release apps were Lightwell’s target audiences. Prior to today’s purchase, New York-based Hullabalu had raised $6.5 million from investors including SV Angel, Vayner RSE, Initialized Capital, Technicolor, Joanne Wilson, Scott Belsky, Carmelo Anthony, Nas, and others.

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