Systrom and Krieger have shaped virtually everything about Instagram’s culture and product for the past six years.
By Kurt Wagner
Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger, left, and Kevin Systrom Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images
Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are resigning from the company they built amid frustration and agitation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increased meddling and control over Instagram, according to sources.
The duo, who founded Instagram in 2010 and sold it to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, told Facebook executives today that they were leaving the company, according to the New York Times. The co-founders have disagreed with Zuckerberg on a handful of recent product changes, including changes to comments and how posts are shared between the two networks.
Systrom confirmed his and Krieger’s departure in a statement on Instagram’s blog. In his statement, Systrom implied that the two co-founders would look to build something else.
“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” Systrom’s statement said. “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.”
The departures are a major blow to Facebook. Instagram, which has grown rapidly and is popular with the younger generation of users who are less interested in Facebook, has been a consistent beacon of good news for a company that has had more than a year of bad news.
Facebook has dealt with numerous external and internal crises, including concerns over how it handles user privacy and how it’s preparing for the upcoming 2018 election. Instagram, though, stayed largely out of way, and gave Facebook something positive to point to at the same time.
It’s not uncommon for founders to leave after selling their company. But Systrom and Krieger stayed longer than many would have guessed, and remained influential throughout their tenure. Systrom was the product visionary and was hands-on even after bringing in other product execs to do more of the day-to-day execution.
Krieger, meanwhile, was actively running Instagram’s engineering team, and was seen by many internally as the company’s “heart and soul.”
Facebook has yet to offer any comment about the departure.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum left the company he founded after disagreements with Facebook management over how to build WhatsApp’s business. One of Instagram’s great benefits all these years was that it operated largely independently (or at least it felt that way to employees).
Systrom and Krieger’s departure presumably means Instagram will be run primarily by Facebook executives, though Facebook’s influence over Instagram has started to increase in the past year, according to sources.
Another Instagram executive, COO Marne Levine, also left Instagram this month to take a bigger role at Facebook.
Here’s Systrom’s full statement:
Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now 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 two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.
Additional reporting by Kara Swisher.