Less than two years after photo-sharing mobile app Instagram launched a decade ago, its founders made the “gut-wrenching” decision to sell it to Facebook in a $1 billion deal.
Journalist Sarah Frier promises her book “No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram” is a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at how Instagram became a social media sensation as a member of Facebook’s family of online services.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger wanted a quick way to share photos in an age when smartphones cameras had people capturing all kinds of moments in pictures.
The also wanted to add artistic touches, giving rise to “filters” that overlay effects to transform life moments into nostalgic memories. Instagram’s founders also wanted to build a community, inviting just a select group of people to join at the start, such as artists or musicians with strong online followings. The founders had a very clear vision for how they wanted Instagram to feel and look. And the Facebook network was pretty much the opposite of that vision.
Where Instagram preferred to think about art and creativity, Facebook preferred to think about engagement metrics, and time spent on the app.
When Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg set his sights on Instagram, it had only 13 employees working hard pressed to keep it up and running. The temptation for Instagram, aside from money, was being able to tap into Facebook’s talent and resources while remaining in control. Eventually, Instagram’s growth started to rocket in 2016, just as Facebook was coming under fire for concerns about misinformation, election manipulation, privacy and polarisation of society. Zuckerberg began wondering whether Instagram was a competitive threat, restricting resources to make sure it only grew with Facebook’s blessing.
With loss of independence at Instagram, its founders left.
So, now Instagram will be more Facebook like in its next decade, working to recommend content based on interests instead of introducing users to new communities, interests and creators.