Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to step down. The New York Times first reported that the duo resigned from the photo-sharing company on Monday, Sept. 24, and will depart in the next few weeks.
In a blog post, Systrom said that they plan to take some time off so they could explore their 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,” Systrom wrote.
Kieger and Systrom’s decision to depart came amid reports that tension has mounted between Instagram and Facebook’s leadership over Instagram’s autonomy. TechCrunch cited sources who spoke about the issue.
Bloomberg also reported that the founders of Instagram are leaving Facebook due to growing tensions with the social media company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of the photo and video-sharing social networking app.
Instagram is arguably the most successful and most profitable of Facebook’s acquisitions. It is now the main source of advertising revenue for Facebook, next to the social network’s main news feed.
Kieger and Systrom built Instagram, which they sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion in cash and stock. Instagram only had 30 million registered users when the deal was announced. Now, more than 1 billion people worldwide use the app monthly.
Facebook agreed to give Instagram autonomy as part of the acquisition deal but in May, Instagram’s VP of Product Kevin Weil was transferred to Facebook’s new blockchain team. He was replaced by Adam Mosseri, former VP of Facebook News Feed, who is also a member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle.
A source told TechCrunch that Adam is very strong-willed and that Systrom and Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox did not get along well.
“When Chris started taking initiative and with Adam as more of the old-school in-crowd of Facebook, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. I saw that this guy [Systrom] is gonna get squeezed,” the source said.
Another source, however, said that Mosseri was well received and productive since he moved to Instagram, and Cox had been cooperative with Systrom.
The co-founders’ departure was also announced just weeks after the photo app’s chief operating officer Marne Levine was moved back to Facebook to become the company’s global head of business development. As Instagram’s COO, Levine helped maintain a harmonious relationship between Instagram and its parent company.
Bloomberg said that Systrom and Krieger’s departure may put additional pressure on Facebook’s shares, which have already dipped by more than 6 percent this year.