Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned from the photo-sharing company today, and both plan to officially depart the company in the next few weeks, according to a report from The New York Times this evening. Neither executives gave a reason for why they wanted to leave the Facebook-owned company.
Valued at many times the $1 billion that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to purchase it for and now counting more than 1 billion worldwide users, Instagram is arguably Facebook’s most successful acquisition. Its growth since 2012 is largely a product of Systrom and Krieger’s vision, the duos strategic use of Facebook resources, and the willingness to aggressively compete with Snapchat.
Now, Systrom and Krieger’s exit may impact the social network’s ability to manage its ongoing crises around election interference, fake news, and a general public perception that Facebook is no longer healthy for society or democracy. Instagram has been positioned as a fast-growing and successful alternative to Facebook for teenage users and those disillusioned by Facebook’s privacy violations and its larger impact on digital life. Without Systrom and Krieger at the helm, Instagram may struggle to continue growing at its previous pace.
Systrom and Krieger represent the second pair of wildly successful co-founders to sell a company to Facebook for billions and then depart some years later. Earlier this year, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced he was leaving Facebook over apparent disagreements about user privacy and data-sharing. Koum’s fellow co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook in September 2017, and Acton has voiced not-so-subtle criticisms of his former employer on Twitter and through his investment of encrypted messaging company Signal. It’s not clear if Systrom or Krieger share any of the same misgivings about Facebook as Koum and Acton.