13 October 2018
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram in 2010 which turned out to be such a phenomenon that they sold it to Facebook for a whopping $1 billion only a couple of years later. And now, six years later since the acquisition, they have officially confirmed their decision to exit Facebook without sharing any substantial information related to the reasons for the move.
In a post released by Instagram's official blog, both founders said,
"Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter."
In response, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said,
“Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflect their combined creative talents. I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”
The statement makes it sound like it was an obvious step for the two people who created an app, made it a rage worldwide, became billionaires, and helped it grow to over a billion users around the globe. It is like they achieved everything they could with Instagram and are now looking for a new challenge. But there are reports making rounds of the internet speculating that the things between founders and Zuckerberg are not as straightforward as they are making them look to the public.
The biggest speculation is that Systrom and Krieger decided to leave Facebook because of Zuckerberg's attempt at gaining more controlling power over how Instagram works or should work. This in contrast to what he assured to the founder while acquiring Instagram that they will continue to operate independently despite not having the ownership. While this might have been true in few initial years post-acquisition, things started to change in past few years.
It is said that Zuckerberg started to incline more and more towards Instagram for making sure that people continue to use Facebook. It can be seen in different changes that we saw on the Instagram app in recent years. To start off, he decided to remove the Instagram branding on images shared from the platform on Facebook. He went as far as offering bundled badge notifications where the Instagram app was also showing Facebook notifications so that people would visit the latter.
It seems like things did go unexpectedly for Systrom and Krieger but those things are behind the scenes for the moment. This is not the first time something like this has happened at Facebook. Previously, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook in 2017 over issues related to how it handles things related to user data and privacy handing. As for the other founder Jan Koum, he too left the company earlier this year on similar grounds.
We can expect to get more answers as well as what's next for them in the near future. Also, it will be interesting to see how Zuckerberg will work with Instagram considering that he now has full control over the world's biggest photo-sharing platform.