Why Are the Instagram Founders Leaving Facebook?

September 28, 2018 • Shannon Flynn


Have you heard that the Instagram founders are leaving Facebook?

Unable to find a resolution to their disagreements, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to part ways with social media pioneer, Facebook. Systrom said on the subject, “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”

But the matter of their departure is more significant than a simple sabbatical.

These resignations follow a recent scandal involving Facebook’s data privacy issues. The unauthorized collection of user data for targeted advertising — in which organizations harvested the personal information of up to 87 million people — may have influenced Systrom and Krieger to question their role within the company.

An associate of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram Vice President Adam Mosseri is the likeliest to helm the photo-sharing app in place of its co-founders.

That said, Instagram has yet to issue an official statement on who will assume control of the service in the days to come.

Causes of the Separation

The question remains: What were the motivating factors for Systrom and Kreiger’s withdrawal?

While it’s logical to presume that Facebook’s controversial data practices contributed to their decision to seek other opportunities, there were other issues behind the scenes that increased tensions.

When Facebook originally purchased Instagram in 2012 for $6 billion, Zuckerberg agreed to allow its co-founders freedom in how they chose to manage their brainchild.

Though Facebook owned Instagram, Systrom and Krieger had a level of autonomy in determining its aesthetic and direction.

As interest in Facebook began to diminish and the company struggled with a long catalog of additional problems, Zuckerberg wrestled control of the app away from Systrom and Krieger in an attempt to course correct. This micromanagement was not received well and only added fuel to the proverbial fire.

While Systrom and Krieger enjoyed a friendly relationship with Zuckerberg, they didn’t always agree. A source claimed that they would argue several times a year before eventually resolving their disputes — one of which entailed a feature that shared Instagram content back to Facebook.

Further Difficulties

Regardless of the reasons behind Instagram founders leaving Facebook, the loss of Systrom and Krieger will no doubt harm the platform’s future.

As of late September, stocks for the company continue on a downward trend as confidence in Zuckerberg’s ability to effectively lead comes under question.

With changing business practices and the growth of an on-demand economy, executives in high positions of power have to exhibit adaptability in how they operate.

Even highly successful CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg are at risk of falling behind through poor decision making and mismanagement of talent.

More than that, the rising popularity of new social apps are affording consumers fresh alternatives to Facebook that lessen its relevance to young people today. Facebook is forced to compete with other entrepreneurs whose novel ideas challenge the status quo and change the social media landscape.

For every original feature introduced on a competitor’s app, Facebook has one fewer original feature on theirs.

Though Instagram allows interfacing with specific programs for the easy download of video content, they’ll need a dedicated push toward innovation to keep the attention of their audience.

Forecasting the Future

In the coming weeks, Instagram users can expect to see tighter integration between the app and Facebook. If the past is any indication, a heavier saturation of ads is also probable. In addition to this, shopping features will also contribute to the monetization of Instagram under Facebook’s ownership.

Whether these will changes will prove successful is up for speculation.

If they weaken the brand, will Facebook share the fate of its predecessor, Myspace? There’s a slim chance this will happen. But if CEO Mark Zuckerberg is unable to pull his company from its current spiral, he stands to suffer an enormous loss, of which Systrom and Krieger are just the beginning.