Instagram co-founders to exit the company

Dwayne Harmon
September 26, 2018

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger did not say why they were leaving their positions as chief executive officer and chief technical officer, respectively, of the photo-sharing service, just that they were leaving to explore their "curiosity and creativity again".

The departure of two popular executives who eight years ago built Instagram from scratch is likely to impact morale and add to Facebook's growing list of troubles, which includes fighting disinformation and Russian interference ahead of the 2016 elections.

Just before going public Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn - considered an eye-watering sum that year - for a less than two-year old startup with no revenue but 31 million mobile users.

Having the Instagram founders walk out the door - shortly after the WhatsApp founders grew frustrated and did the same - does not project the image of a Facebook on sure footing.

In a statement posted on Instagram's info center, Systrom points to the massive growth of Instagram over its lifetime so far.

Analysts at eMarketer have estimated how much of Facebook's revenue comes from Instagram. Several features are now available across both the Facebook and Instagram platforms, including the Stories format-disappearing photos and videos-and their respective video sections, Instagram's IGTV and Facebook Watch.

This claim was backed by another company source, who told Tech Crunch that Facebook put pressure on Systrom to help expand the social network's dwindling teenage audience - Instagram's primary demography.

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As the number of users increased, so has the value of the company.

"In a sense, Facebook, which was once itself an upstart, has now become the establishment", said Stephen Allan, world-wide chairman and CEO of Mediacom, a media agency owned by ad giant WPP PLC. Now, he said, they are ready for their next chapter.

These days, Instagram is Facebook's most prized possession, though the ouroboros of Instagram and Facebook is hard to parse.

More recently, though, it's been Facebook that needs Instagram more than the other way around, and that makes the departure of the Instagram founders a particularly painful sting. He said Instagram played a "critical role" in attracting younger users, as it competes with Snap.

Instagram, meanwhile, has remained a bright spot for the company. CMO Gary Briggs left in January, before the Cambridge Analytica data protection scandal took over headlines. "Maybe they apply a small tweak [to Instagram] or find a better way of doing it".

Their departure is expected in the "coming weeks", Business Insider reported.

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