Instagram co-founders resign to explore ‘creativity again’

Chief executive Kevin Systrom said during a statement late Monday that he and Mike Krieger, Instagram’s chief technical officer, commit to leave the corporate in the next few weeks and take time off “to explore our curiosity and creative thinking again.”

“Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and 6 years with the Facebook team,” Systrom said. “We’ve full-grown from 13 people to over one thousand with offices around the world, all whereas building merchandise used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re currently prepared for our next chapter.”

“Building new things needs that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Systrom said. “We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to 2 users in a billion.”

No explanation was given for their unexpected departure from the photo-sharing network they founded in 2010.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, just before going public, at a price that appeared inconceivable at the time — $1 billion — especially for a little-known startup with no profit. At the time Instagram was ad-free, with a loyal following of 31 million users who were all on mobile devices — still a somewhat elusive bunch for the web-born Facebook in the past. Since then, the service has full-grown to over one billion users and has in fact added lots of advertisements.

Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg called the 2 “extraordinary product leaders” in a statement to NBC News through a spokesman. “I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have extremely enjoyed it. I wish all of them the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next,” Zuckerberg said in the statement.

Krieger posted on Twitter that “it’s time for the next chapter.”
Over eight years ago, Kevin and I started Instagram, hoping to create something that would bring out people’s creativity and spirit for exploration. Currently it’s time for the next chapter. A huge thank you to everybody in the community who we’ve met along the way.

The departures are a challenge for Facebook. Instagram has been a bright spot for the corporate not simply because it’s seen as a more rising place than Facebook itself, however because it’s popular with teens and youth — a group Facebook has had trouble keeping around.

Instagram has mostly escaped Facebook’s high-profile issues over user privacy, foreign elections interference and fake news; although it’s not resistant to any of these things (Facebook recently disclosed it has deleted hundreds of pages on its namesake site as well as Instagram that were connected to global misinformation campaigns meant to disrupt elections).

Though Systrom, in the early days of Instagram ads, splendidly checked each one personally to make sure it aligned with the app’s aesthetics, he wasn’t as loudly anti-ads because the founder of another popular Facebook-acquired mobile app, WhatsApp.

WhatsApp’s chief executive officer Jan Koum resigned in April.

Koum had signaled years earlier that he would take a stand against Facebook if the company’s push to extend profits demanded radical changes in the way WhatsApp operates. In a blog post written when Facebook announced the largest acquisition in its history, Koum wrote that the deal wouldn’t have happened if WhatsApp “had to compromise on the core principles that will invariably define our company, our vision and our product.”

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