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What Will Happen to Instagram After Its Founders Leave

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram in 2010 as a simple photo sharing app. No ads. No frills. Just a collection of cute pets, picture-perfect food, and melancholic sunsets.

When Systrom and Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook in 2012, Instagram only had 31 million users, and most of those old-school users were quite worried about the move. Would Facebook just get rid of Instagram as a social media rival? Will ads bombard Instagram’s feed, just like in Facebook? Will user privacy suffer in exchange for advertising data in the same way Facebook has done to its users?

Of course, all these didn’t happen; at least, not outright. Instagram has remained in the social media scene; it now has one billion users. However, it now has video and display ads though not as invasive as those on Facebook.

Instagram founders left for good

After almost a decade of working on Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have left the popular social media app. With this news, Instagram could undergo drastic changes, which is a significant cause of worry among loyal fans.

The reasons why Systrom and Krieger left are vague, and we can only speculate, but the real reasons may very well give us hints about the direction of Instagram.

Instagram as Facebook’s milking cow

Instagram always held so much promise. That’s why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg bought the app for $1 billion. Instagram only had 13 employees back then, and it was Facebook’s biggest acquisition at that time. Two years later, the tech giant purchased messaging app WhatsApp for $20 billion.

Despite the $19-billion difference in acquisition cost, Instagram remains Facebook’s only growing platform right now, according to technology analyst Omar Akhtar. Current financial data also supports this fact.

Still, Facebook is experiencing a slowdown in terms of revenue growth, and Wall Street has been challenging the company to step up.

In response, Facebook is apparently taking advantage of Instagram, focusing its revenue efforts on the platform. This could lead to a partial or full integration with Facebook. In layman’s terms, there could be more ads which could, in turn, lead to privacy issues—the same problems that recently plagued Facebook and its users.

The “takeover” of Instagram

Instagram was the first acquisition that Facebook allowed to operate independently. That is until Adam Mosseri was tasked to manage Instagram’s product operation in May 2018. Mosseri has been with Facebook since 2008; he is notable for establishing Facebook’s newsfeed feature. He replaced Kevin Weil as Instagram’s head of product. Now, Mosseri is the Head of Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

@kevin and I are pleased to announce that Adam Mosseri (@mosseri), our current Vice President of Product, will become the Head of Instagram starting today. We are thrilled to hand over the reins to a product leader with a strong design background and a focus on craft and simplicity — as well as a deep understanding of the importance of community. These are the values and principles that have been essential to us at Instagram since the day we started, and we're excited for Adam to carry them forward. Adam began his career as a designer, managed his own design consultancy, and then joined the Facebook design team in 2008. Since he joined, he moved from design into product management, and spent time working on Mobile then News Feed and most recently, we recruited him to Instagram. In his role leading Instagram, Adam will oversee all functions of the business and will recruit a new executive team including a head of engineering, head of product and head of operations. Since we announced our departure, many people have asked us what we hope for the future of Instagram. To us, the most important thing is keeping our community — all of you — front and center in all that Instagram does. We believe that Adam will hold true to these values and that Instagram will continue to thrive. We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from being leaders at Instagram to being just two users in a billion. We're confident that under Adam's leadership, Instagram will evolve and improve and we look forward to the future of the product and community.

A post shared by Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) on

Some experts said that Mosseri’s assignment might have signaled Instagram’s integration with Facebook. Instagram’s founders may have been uncomfortable—even displeased—by the takeover.

The departure of Instagram and WhatsApp founders

Systrom and Krieger’s departure came after Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s CEO and co-founder, left in April 2018. Koum had always been vocal against the push for profits in exchange for WhatsApp’s core element—the commitment to user privacy. Koum then left when Facebook started driving for more integration and profit with WhatsApp.

We can only speculate that Systrom and Krieger’s reason is the same as that of Koum’s, especially with the management changes and Facebook’s drive for more profits. With Mosseri being the Head of Instagram, people who are loyal to Krieger and Systrom are probably going to leave as well, according to Akhtar.

Another issue with all these integrations is that the privacy issues that plagued Facebook may also affect Instagram. We’re talking about user privacy invasion, fake news, possible political affiliations, and even electoral process intrusion.

Facebook had lost its coolness a long time ago, and Instagram may start to sour too, especially when its founders no longer have any say.

What happens next?

Instagram had always been about friends sharing amazing photos. It’s the go-to social media platform for people who want to look at and share pictures of landscapes, vacations, and other cool, relaxing photos. It doesn’t have the rants and arguments that Twitter have, nor does it have the trolls that are on Facebook. Will CEO Mark Zuckerberg change this? Only time can tell.

However, experts think that this isn’t going to happen, not forcibly at least. Zuckerberg knows that Instagram’s success is because it is different and separate from Facebook. Concerning the Facebook-Instagram integration, Zuckerberg won’t likely force users to do anything too rash.

Facebook’s main challenge now is to continue growing (and milking) Instagram while keeping it cool and distinct. Especially now that there’s no longer the vision brought by Instagram’s founders.

Date: May 6, 2019 / Categories: Interesting, / Author: Rich Drees

May
6
2019

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