Instagram’s Co-Founders Announce Their Departure Amid Tensions With Mark Zuckerberg

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have announced their departure from the social media giant amid tensions with Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger attend the 16th Annual Webby Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on May 21, 2012 in New York City.
Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have announced their departure from the social media giant amid tensions with Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, announced they will be leaving Facebook Inc. amid reports of growing tension between them and Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg over the future of the popular photo-sharing app, according to the New York Times.

Systrom and Krieger, who have been with the company since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, made it a priority to keep their company independent and unique while using Facebook’s near limitless resources to grow even more. According to what sources familiar with the situation told the New York Times, however, the duo was growing frustrated with Zuckerberg’s increasing day-to-day involvement with the company.

Sources say Zuckerberg’s involvement spiked because he’s increasingly planning Facebook’s future around Instagram and now that the founders and the company are parting ways, it’s likely Facebook and Instagram are going to become even more closely integrated.

After the NYT story broke, Systrom and Krieger confirmed their decision via a blog post.

Facebook released a statement shortly after but declined to comment on any tension between the duo and Zuckerberg.

“Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents,” Zuckerberg said in the statement. “I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it.”

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@mikeyk and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people on the team to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’ve loved learning to scale a company and nurture an enormous global community. And we couldn’t have done it without our amazing Instagram team, and the support of @zuck, @sherylsandberg, @schrep, and @chriscox at Facebook – we’ve learned so much from all of you. Now, we’re ready for our next chapter. 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. We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to just two users in a billion. Thank you for being part of Instagram’s community. It’s been (and will continue to be) an honor ????????

A post shared by Kevin Systrom (@kevin) on

Krieger and Systrom sold their company to Facebook for $715 million in 2012, when the company only had 13 employees and 30 million users. Now the app has more than a billion users monthly and is Facebook’s main source of ad revenue outside of the massive social network itself.

The company’s younger user demographic likely flock to Instagram as an alternative to the app’s parent company since the company was rocked by privacy, fake news, and election interference scandals in the last few years and users averaged about 53 minutes a day on Instagram in June, only five minutes less than on Facebook, according to Android data from analytics company SimilarWeb.

Bloomberg estimated in June that Instagram is worth about $100 billion, making it one of the heaviest hitters in social media.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” Systrom wrote in his blog post. “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’s departing message wished Instagram and Facebook luck after their departure to a new project.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next,” Systrom wrote.