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Instagram CEO’s recent interviews hint at what his concerns about Facebook were



Kevin Systrom
Instagram chief Kevin

Justin Sullivan/Getty

  • In a September 5th interview with Reid Hoffman on the
    Masters of Scale podcast, Instagram cofounder and then CEO
    Kevin Systrom spoke about his vision for the company — and it
    might have hinted at the reasons behind his recent
  • Facebook’s recent handling of Instagram is rumored to
    have been a headache for Systrom and fellow Instagram
    cofounder Mike Krieger. In a few interviews before his
    announcement, Systrom discussed how the initial relationship
    with Facebook was mutually beneficial, and crucial for
    Instagram’s growth. 
  • The pair didn’t provide a reason for quitting, however,
    and have yet to give an interview since the

On Monday, Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike
Krieger made the unexpected announcement that they would be
leaving the company in the the coming weeks.

They didn’t provide a reason for quitting, but in the last
interviews he gave before
announcing his departure
, Systrom may have hinted at why he
and Krieger decided to leave the company. 

Systrom recently made an appearance on the Masters of Scale podcast hosted
by Reid Hoffman, where he discussed his visions for Instagram and
how the company came to be. In the interview, Systrom spoke about
his decision to sell Instagram to Facebook, and how he was
initially optimistic about the relationship. 

The decision to sell was mostly
about whether or not we were aligned in our vision of Instagram,
and I think Mark and I both saw at the time that Instagram was a
special thing,” Systrom said in the interview. “It wasn’t going
to be like, ‘Oh, we’ll buy this thing and it’ll just be Facebook
Photos.’ Like, ‘We’ll rebrand it as Facebook Photos.’ It’s a
unique community and had a unique angle and he wanted to invest
in it.”

Systrom also explained how
Facebook’s infrastructure had a huge effect on Instagram’s
growth, and the relationship between the two companies was
mutually beneficial. However,
according to Recode
, this relationship began to decay as
Facebook began to take Instagram in a different direction — a
direction that was antithetical to Systrom’s vision of keeping
Instagram “simple” and distinct from Facebook. 

The whole idea of joining
Facebook was that we could scale way more quickly than we would
independently,” Systrom said in a recent
interview with The Wall Street Journal
, which was conducted
before his departure announcement. While the ability to quickly
scale the Instagram platform was an upside to selling to
Facebook, Systrom may have come to disagree with how the parent
company was treating that relationship. 

However, it’s been rumored that the duo’s departure
came as a result of some headbutting with Facebook executives

over their conflicting visions of what Instagram should be, and
whether the social media app was competing with Facebook’s
userbase. Multiple sources told Recode that Systrom and Krieger
were frustrated with how Facebook had been dealing with Instagram
lately, after an initially smooth and co-beneficial relationship
for the first six years.

In the last year or so, Facebook lessened its promotion of
Instagram, according to Recode, removing the Instagram label when
pictures from the platform were shared to Facebook and decreasing
the amount of Instagram promotion from within Facebook, in
addition to
testing Instagram notifications that would send people to
. Recode is also reporting that there was conflict
over the introduction of Instagram TV, and that Facebook was
worried it would draw users away from Facebook’s own in-app video
service. Given the sum of these actions, Recode’s sources claim
Instagram executives were worried Facebook may have been
intentionally slowing Instagram’s growth.

For now, Systrom isn’t setting the record straight one way or the
other, but that could change once the executive officially
departs the company in coming weeks — or perhaps the next time he
sits down with a reporter to talk about whatever new project he’s
working on next.

You can listen to or read
Systrom’s interview with Hoffman on the Masters of Scale
. You can read the full Wall Street Journal article


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