Reuters Pictures/Lucas Jackson
After eight years, the founders of Instagram are leaving the company.
CEO Kevin Systrom and CTO Mike Krieger announced Monday that they are departing the mega-popular photo sharing social network , which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. The news came following months of turmoil and scandals for Facebook, and reportedly comes amid tension between the founders and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Still, it’s something of a surprise that Systrom and Krieger would leave the app they built from scratch. Instagram grew out of Systrom’s love of photography, and has since become one of the most popular social media apps in the world — in fact, Instagram hit 1 billion active users earlier this year.
Here’s how Systrom got his start and built Instagram into what it is today.
Systrom soon became interested in photography, and built a photo sharing site for his fraternity brothers in his spare time. During his junior year, he spent a semester in Florence to study photography.
It was in Florence that Systrom stumbled upon the aesthetic that would define Instagram in the early days: one of his professors showed him a cheap film camera called a Holga, which takes hip, vintage-looking photos.
Soon after Krieger joined, the pair decided to pivot Burbn, eliminating most of the features to focus solely on photo sharing. But the real “a-ha moment” came while Systrom was on the beach with his now-wife, Nicole.
Here’s how Systrom explained it to the Telegraph:
We were walking along the beach and I said that we needed something to help us [the company] stand out. Nicole then said, “Well, I don’t want to take photos, because my photos don’t look good. They’re not as good as your other friend Greg’s.”
He was also using the early product [Burbn]. I told her that was because Greg used filter apps. So she just said, “Well, you should probably have filters then.”
Systrom then sat down to make a filter. The first one, called X-Pro II, it still used in the app today.
These days, Systrom is worth an estimated $1.4 billion. He spends his time cycling, playing golf, and traveling, and he’s interested in fashion. He’s met and worked with several well-known designers, and he’s attended the Met Gala multiple times.
Systrom and his now-wife, Nicole, at the Met Gala in 2016.Reuters
Source: Forbes, The Guardian, Business Insider