Tech Industry

Apple said to be acquiring strained startup Color Labs

After news that the hyped startup was shutting down, a rumor now says that Apple may be setting its sights on the photo-and-video-sharing social network.

Color Labs app.
Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Color Labs founder Bill Nguyen has a relationship with Apple. In 2009, the tech giant bought one of his startups called Lala for $80 million.

Now, rumor has it that Apple may be after his Color Labs too.

According to The Next Web, sources say that Apple has picked up the startup for a price in the "high double digits," and the deal is final even though papers aren't yet signed.

Color made a big splash when it launched last year as a location-based photo-sharing app for iOS and Android. Its charismatic founder, Nguyen, won big backers, like Sequoia, Bain Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank.

In the past couple of days, however, there has been talk that the startup was shutting down after criticism of the relationship between Nguyen and Color Labs' board. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Company representatives said today that Color Labs plans to stay up and functioning.

Now, it's looking like it might stay operating under Apple's watch.

This news comes as Apple nabbed the Justin Timberlake-backed Web app design firm Particle. The purpose of this buy shows Apple's focus on putting HTML5 on its product pages, iAd advertising, and on, which serves as one of the only places Apple has true Web applications.

Apple rarely announces its acquisitions, but it has picked up a handful of companies recently. Besides Particle, it also bought app search company Chomp in February (and has since shut it down), as well as last year's Israeli flash memory maker Anobit, which reportedly cost close to $400 million.

CNET contacted Apple and Color Labs for confirmation. We'll update the story when we get more information.