Instagram is a wildly famous social media platform which changed the nature of photography.
The success story of Instagram and its co-founder, Kevin Systrom is very inspiring.
In order to completely understand the success story of Instagram, it is also important to know the story of its founder.
So read on.
Kevin Systrom was born on December 30, 1983 to Douglas Systrom and Diane Systrom in Holliston, Massachusetts, United States.
His mother, Diane Systrom used to work as the marketing executive at Zipcar, an American car-sharing company and his father, Douglas Systrom worked as a vice president at TJX, a multinational off-price department store corporation.
Kevin Systrom’s love for technology was imbibed from his mother; Diane Systrom who entered the world of technology during its incipient stages.
Kevin Systrom did his schooling from the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts.
Here, he was introduced to computer programming.
With the passage of time, his interest in computer programming grew.
In his school days, Kevin Systrom used to create his own levels in a game by name, Doom II by using his programming skills.
As he grew older, he used his programming skills to create programs which pranked his friends by seeming to hack their instant messenger and AOL accounts.
Kevin Systrom chose computer science in his college but he later shifted to management science and engineering program, because he felt that the computer science classes were more focused on theory rather than on real-world practical applications.
He chose management science because it offered him exposure to more practical subjects like economics and finance.
Getting selected to the Mayfield Fellows Program-
Kevin Systrom was later selected to the highly prestigious Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford University.
He was one of the twelve students to get selected to that program.
With the help of the Mayfield Fellows Program, Kevin Systrom got to experience how the start-up world felt like.
Getting an early offer-
During his college days, Kevin Systrom received an offer from Mark Zuckerberg to work for Facebook, but he rejected that offer.
Kevin Systrom worked as an intern at a company by name, Odeo.
Odeo later became Twitter.
Getting into Google-
Kevin Systrom completed his graduation in the year 2006 and then joined Google as an associate product marketing manager.
Kevin Systrom worked for Google for around three years on many of its well-known products like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, etc.
And after completing two years at Google, he was promoted to the corporate development team.
Kevin Systrom was always looking for an opportunity to get into the social space, but for some reasons, he couldn’t make it happen.
He later resigned from his job in Google and went on to become a product manager at a start-up by name, Nextstop.com.
Realising his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur-
During his stint at Nextstop.com, Kevin Systrom realised that he is meant to become an entrepreneur.
So, in his spare time, he started working on his dream project.
Kevin Systrom resigned from his job to work on his passions, photography and social sharing full-time.
Kevin Systrom developed an application by name, Burbn, which allowed location-based photo sharing to its users.
This app was very similar to another app by name, Foursquare.
Kevin Systrom readied the prototype of this app and presented it in January 2010 in a party to Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
He was very fortunate, as within two weeks of quitting his job, he received a whopping $500,000 as seed funding from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
After this, Kevin Systrom realised that his start-up needs a co-founder to run it effectively.
So, his friend Mike Krieger became the co-founder of that start-up, Burbn.
Kevin Systrom met Mike Krieger while studying at Stanford University.
Like many start-ups, they started in a small co-working space.
Their application, Burbn did not perform according to their expectations, even after getting a lot of hype through the numerous technology blogs.
Succeeding by being simply superb-
Kevin Systrom soon realised that Burbn contained way too many confusing features and he got to know that many users wanted a simple to use application, not an overly complicated application like Burbn.
This made the co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger to focus solely on one single feature of photo sharing and make this particular feature perform great.
Burbn was later renamed as Instagram.
The name Instagram is derived from instant camera and telegram.
The feature which changed the fate-
During this time, Kevin Systrom got very valuable advice to incorporate photo filters in the app, which enhanced the look of images from his wife, Nicole during a beach walk.
Nicole insisted him to include the photo filters feature in the app; because she opined that no one will use just a photo sharing app which cannot enhance the look of their photos.
How the iPhone helped Instagram?
So, Kevin Systrom stripped the app of all its other features and tailored the app only for the iPhone users.
Initially, they chose to launch their app only for iPhone, because then, the recently launched iPhone 4 had a great built-in camera, which captured really great-looking photos.
Because of this amazing camera, the photos looked great and these photos on Instagram looked even more gorgeous.
Shortly, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger started working on this idea for eight long weeks.
They greatly refined the design of the app by tweaking its code.
Starting with success-
On the night of October 6, 2010, Instagram was officially released through the App Store.
And within two hours of going live, the servers crashed due to enormous traffic.
The fear of failing on the first day itself made them work all night to get the servers back up, so that they could keep their users online.
In a period of less than three months, Instagram had one million users.
And Instagram touched the 30 million users mark, just after a period of 18 months.
The instant success of Instagram-
More than 25,000 people signed up for Instagram on its first day itself.
People really appreciated the app which offered them to make their photographs look unique without having to reveal much of their personal information.
This app made the photo sharing task very easy, all one needs to do is to follow others and share pictures.
Within a short span of nine months, Instagram had a whopping seven billion users.
Their users also included many tech-loving celebrities like Justin Bieber.
Fusing into Facebook-
This rapid rise of Instagram caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.
He observed that a lot of Facebook users stopped sharing photos on Facebook; they instead started sharing their photos through the Instagram app.
Mark Zuckerberg was concerned because the initial success of Facebook was due to its photo uploading and sharing feature.
He was worried that Instagram might overtake Facebook; this made him to propose Kevin Systrom to merge Instagram into Facebook.
Choosing the best offer-
During these times, Kevin Systrom was invited to a conference held at Arizona, by an investment bank, Allen & Company.
On that night, after talking over drinks in front of a campfire, Ali Rowghani (former CFO of Twitter) and Jack Dorsey (the present CEO of Twitter) proposed to Kevin Systrom to buy Instagram for a sum of 500 million dollars.
He was also offered a great deal of funds from Sequoia Capital, a venture capital company.
From these two offerings, Kevin Systrom, decided to accept the offering of Sequoia Capital and function as an independent company.
During this time, he also contacted Mark Zuckerberg to know his decision.
And later, Mark Zuckerberg invited Kevin Systrom for discussions on this topic.
And after a long discussion, Mark Zuckerberg offered Kevin Systrom a humongous sum of one billion dollars, this sum was twice than the offerings from Twitter and Sequoia Capital.
Getting acquired for a billion dollars-
On April 9, 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram and its thirteen employees for approximately one billion dollars.
So, Kevin Systrom who rejected a job offer from Facebook in his college days, finally joined Facebook through his startup, Instagram.
Even after this acquisition, Instagram decided to function like an independently managed company.
After this acquisition by Facebook, Instagram grew at a frantic pace; this growth rate had surprised many people.
The rapid growth of Instagram had been made possible, because it joined a giant company, Facebook, this helped Instagram to utilise the expertise and experience of Facebook.
Now, Instagram is headquartered at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California, in the main campus of Facebook.
More than 100 billion dollars-
The current net worth of Instagram is more than $100 billion.
Until September 2018, Kevin Systrom served as the CEO of Instagram.
The current CEO of Instagram is Adam Mosseri.
The success of Instagram can be attributed to its ease of use.
The other huge reason for the success of Instagram can be attributed to many famous personalities who embraced Instagram like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Shahrukh Khan, etc.
Also adding many interesting features like Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, etc. have made using Instagram a pleasurable experience.
Now, people can easily take a photograph and share it in real time by tagging their location and the other people can appreciate the photo by clicking on the heart symbol, all thanks to Instagram.
Instagram has made the lives of people easier, now people can instantly share their photos which depict where they are located and what they are doing.
Kevin Systrom believes in achieving success by simplifying things and using his creativity to solve the real-world problems.
Now, Instagram has become a medium for many to share their life stories in a visual mode.
This app is embraced by a billion people across the world including some of the world’s most popular and powerful personalities.
Protecting the users-
As cyber bullying, harassment and threats are becoming rampant in the online world, Instagram is offering many tools to its users to make them feel safe.
Some of the tools include providing options to block unwanted people; disable comments for your photos to prevent random people from making inappropriate comments on your photos, filtering out inappropriate words, etc.
Proving the doubters wrong-
Initially, when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram pitched their idea of sharing photos to the potential investors, they were turned down by saying that their start-up would not succeed, as there was no money in photos.
But they proved those doubters wrong with their immense success.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What made Instagram successful?
Instagram is a very successful photo and video sharing social networking service and the reasons for its success are-
• Simplicity- Initially, Instagram got rid of the complicated features and focused only on implementing its core feature of photo sharing very well.
• Photo filters- Instagram incorporated photo filters in the app to enhance the look of the images and this made Instagram popular.
• iPhone 4- This iPhone had a great camera and initially, Instagram was made exclusively for iPhone. As the photos on Instagram looked great, this helped the app to become successful.
• Personalities- Many famous personalities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, etc. use Instagram and this popularised the app.
How did Instagram grow so fast?
From the day one, Instagram grew at a rapid pace.
On its first day itself more than 25,000 people signed up for Instagram.
The main reason for this growth was that people liked Instagram because it allowed them to easily edit and share photos without revealing much of their personal information.
This growth motivated Facebook to acquire Instagram.
What was the first Instagram post?
The very first Instagram post was posted on 5:26 PM on July 16, 2010 by Mike Krieger, one of the co-founders of Instagram.
The first Instagram post was the picture of South Beach Harbor at Pier 38.
The second Instagram post was posted on 9:24 PM on July 16, 2010 by Kevin Systrom.
It was a photo of a dog and his girlfriend’s, Nicole’s foot.
What was the original purpose of Instagram?
The original purpose of Instagram was to simplify sharing photographs and make them look beautiful with photo filters.
Who is the owner of Instagram now?
Now, Facebook owns Instagram.
Initially, it was owned by Kevin Systrom but on April 9, 2012, Facebook, Inc. acquired Instagram.
Is Instagram free to use?
Yes, Instagram is absolutely free to use.
You need not pay to use it on your desktop and mobile devices.
Their Android and iOS apps are free too.
Why did Kevin Systrom sell Instagram?
Kevin Systrom sold Instagram to Facebook because Facebook offered to buy Instagram for a whopping $1 billion.
Prior to this, Twitter and Sequoia Capital approached Kevin Systrom for purchasing Instagram.
But as Facebook made the biggest offer, Kevin Systrom sold Instagram to Facebook.
Where is Instagram located?
The headquarters of Instagram is located at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California in the main campus of Facebook.