Instagram: Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, co-founders of Instagram, announced their departure from Facebook in September. Their exit is widely viewed as the end of Instagram’s independence from its parent company, or as New York Times cried – “Facebook’s crown jewel loses its guards”. Among all acquisitions, the one with Instagram is not the most expensive, but in some ways, Instagram is Facebook’s next Facebook. The picture based social media app saw usage increase by 41% year-over-year, now valued at $100B by itself, while the core Facebook properties, like messenger, fell by 13%, and time spent per user fell by a 20%, year-over-year. Along with increased popularity, Instagram is expected to drive the majority of Facebook’s ad revenue growth. In a statement, Systrom said he and Krieger were “ready for our next chapter” and “planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”
In his first public remarks since leaving, Systrom hinted at tensions with Facebook that could have hastened his separation. The co-founders disagreed with Zuckerberg on recent product changes, including changes to comments and how posts are shared between the two networks. Facebook promised Instagram autonomy, but Zuckerberg reduced it over time leading to too many straws that broke the cameras back. It is not uncommon for founders to leave after selling their company. But Systrom and Krieger were the last leaders of the mega-acquisitions of Whatsapp, Messenger, and Oculus. They remained well-liked hands-on managers. Most importantly, as Facebook’s luster faded over privacy scandals, they were symbols of the modern tech firm’s highest aspirations, to create products that are connected but independent, accessible but unobtrusive. Now, in an instant, they are gone.