Instagram's original co-founders both resign
It was one of the best acquisitions of all time, with Facebook getting Instagram for just $1 billion in 2012, months before the parent company went public and eventually growing the service to billions of users. Now, just a few years later, the founders are leaving.
That isn't a surprising move in itself, with many founders leaving their companies a few years after they're acquired (usually around when their stock options from the deal mature). What's interesting about the two co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, however, is that they're leaving when the company has been aggressively pushing the photo service for growth and monetization.
There's many ways to interpret this news, but it is absolutely no coincidence that Instagram's newfound focus on growth hacking user engagement, and increasing ad loads, has coincided with the founders exiting.
Techcrunch reports that conflicts grew between Instagram's team and the Facebook executives in recent times, with arguments over things like Facebook requiring Instagram sharing to be to Facebook rather than on Instagram itself. Facebook pushed for other integrations on the core app, too, such as linking of Facebook profiles, search on Facebook and so on.
Curiously, Systrom and Krieger didn't give a reason for leaving when announcing the news internally, but did make one final, subtle jab in their announcement post. Systrom said that “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” implying that the time there might not have been so creative.
Regardless, this change leave huge shoes to fill at the company and it's not clear who will step into the founders' roles at all. As Instagram has morphed into more Snap-style sharing than what it originally did, the founders' absence will be noticed quickly, as less becomes sacred (Krieger always said he wouldn't allow a hamburger menu, and surprise, there's one being tested in the app right now!).
Let's see what happens, but I think this will matter in the near term. Instagram, to Facebook, is more the future of the service than any other of its platforms -- it's the new Newsfeed, and where the focus for the company appears to lie.
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