This week on The Socialscape...
- We are diving into the resignation of Instagram's founders and the impact this may have on the company going forward...
So, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, co-founders of Instagram, are stepping down without giving any real reason besides they want to take a step back to refocus on what they really care about and all that garbage. UM WHAT?! Okay first of all, this isn’t a big deal in the short-term…but in the long-term, well, this could get interesting. I’m gunna keep this brief because I could easily do ten minutes on this topic alone, but for the sake of your viewership, I’ll give you the abridged version:
When Facebook took ownership of Instagram, the agreement was that Instagram would operate as its own entity under the Facebook umbrella. This would allow for Instagram to continue on the path it had mapped out for itself without interference from good ol’ Marky Mark and the Facebook Bunch. Since then, we’ve seen Facebook slowly but surely creep into our Instagram apps, most notably by way of ads. Now, let’s press pause there and rewind back to when Facebook purchased another major app player: WhatsApp. Facebook has owned WhatsApp since February of 2014 when they paid a small sum of about $20 billion for the messenger app. So why is this interesting besides the fact that that’s just a ridiculous amount of money? Well, because interestingly enough, the founder of WhatsApp also stepped down earlier this year… His reason? “Disagreements over privacy and encryption.”
So, here we are again, talking about Facebook and violations of user privacy, but is there really a link to Kevin and Mikey stepping down from Instagram? Or are we just creating one because it’s the easy (and juicy) answer? Kevin and Mikey’s statement looked a lot like Jan Koum’s when he left WhatsApp, but most resignation letters look alike, so I don’t think that’s anything noteworthy. What I do think is that Kevin and Mikey both quit while they were ahead. I think that there has been a power struggle behind the scenes at Facebook since Instagram was acquired in 2012. I think the platform that Kevin and Mikey built and so generously gifted to the world was one that directly threatened Mark’s creation. Mark just did what successful businesses do and bought them out for a quick billion, which, in hindsight, is an astronomical bargain (at the beginning of this year, Instagram was estimated to be worth more than $100 billion). I think Facebook tried to take advantage of what Instagram brought to the table every chance they got. I think Kevin and Mikey pushed back to keep their baby as pure and innocent as they could for as long as they could. I think they gave in here and there to get Mark and other Facebook execs off their back, and I think they said “this is the last time” every…single…time. But I think Mark kept asking more and more from the IG side of things and then when he was called to be grilled by Congress about his privacy policies, Kevin and Mikey saw the future. I think Kevin and Mikey looked into the crystal ball and realized that although they may not have been on a sinking ship, it was definitely a ship with some holes in it, and even if those holes were to be plugged, the ship’s crew wasn’t one they considered worth staying for to fight another day. I think Kevin and Mikey made a smart decision from a business standpoint and from a personal standpoint. Sure they give up their first child, Instagram, but they also walk away knowing that they did the right thing, they kept their morals, and they kept their promise to all of us by giving us an incredible tool for connection and sharing, and they held out for as long as they could.
So, is Instagram dead without Kevin and Mikey? Short-term, I think we’re fine. I think most casual users don’t even know who these people are never mind the corporate drama that has been unfolding at the offices. But long-term? Truthfully, I don’t know. Mark could take this opportunity to drain Instagram of every last drop and then cast it aside like an empty water bottle. Maybe he absorbs the entire platform into the Facebook app and wipes Instagram off the map completely. I really don’t know. But what I do know is that you can find me on Instagram every single day from now until Kevin and Mikey announce what their next project is…and then I’ll follow them wherever they’re going.
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