In creating a photo sharing app that allows users to select filters for photos and share them with the world, Instagram became one of the world’s most successful mobile apps. Six years ago Facebook acquired the startup with $715 million and with Facebook’s resources, including anti-spam and internationalization, Instagram continued to grow into having one billion monthly active users.
According to sources at TechCrunch, tension had risen this year between Instagram and Facebook’s leadership regarding Instagram’s autonomy. While Facebook had agreed to let it run independently as part of the acquisition deal, in May, Instagram’s VP of Product Kevin Weil moved to Facebook’s new blockchain team and was replaced by former VP of Facebook News Feed Adam Mosseri — a member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle.
Systrom and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg historically got along, but they had occasional diverging opinions. One of which involved overly aggressive ad tactics and invasion of privacy including getting both Facebook alerts inside their Instagram notifications tab, and seeing a Facebook button with red notification counts inside Instagram’s settings menu.
The stress imposed by Facebook had an impact in other departures last year including Instagram’s director of public policy Nicole Jackson and AR/Camera product lead Keith Peiris.
In a statement, Systrom and Krieger wrote, “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. 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.” Who knows where Systrom and Krieger’s next endeavor will take them?