Instagram’s two founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are leaving the photo-sharing app they sold to Facebook for $1bn six years ago.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who have been at the company since Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook in 2012, had been able to keep the brand and product independent from Facebook. Lately, they were frustrated with an unusual uptick in day-to-day involvement by Zuckerberg, who is now more reliant on Instagram for Facebook’s future growth.
Their departure comes less than six months after WhatsApp’s founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton quit the US social media group, after clashing with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg over privacy and data protection in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Including the departure of Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey 18 months ago, the founders of Facebook’s three biggest acquisitions have now all left the company.
Krieger and Systrom built Instagram and sold it to Facebook for US$715-million six years ago. Instagram, which now has more than a billion users, is a key driver of revenue for Facebook.
“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” Systrom said in a statement on the Instagram blog. “Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.”
The sudden and simultaneous exits of the Instagram founders follows a shake-up of Facebook’s executive ranks in May. Product chief Chris Cox was put in charge of the “family of apps” that includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger as well as Facebook itself.
The departure of Instagram’s founders comes just weeks after Facebook decided to bring Instagram’s chief operating officer, Marne Levine, back to Facebook to become its global head of business development. Earlier this year, Adam Mosseri, who formerly ran Facebook’s news feed, was brought to Instagram to be head of product. He’s the most likely successor for the founders, people familiar with the matter have said, though Facebook declined to comment on who might take over.
Within about a year, Facebook has lost several top executives at its biggest acquired properties. Brian Acton and Jan Koum, the founders of WhatsApp, announced their departures after disagreements with Zuckerberg over the messaging application’s business model, as reported by Bloomberg LP