Facebook-Owned Instagram Co-Founders Step Down

Instagram stated that co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have stepped down as chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook, providing minimal details for the decision.

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The exits at Facebook’s fastest-growing revenue generator came just months after the stepping down of Jan Koum, who is the co-founder of Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, leaving the social network without the developers behind two of the largest services.

They also happened at a time when Facebook’s core platform is under intense scrutiny for how it safeguards customer data, as if defends against political efforts to spread false information and as younger users increasingly prefer alternative ways to stay in touch with their families and friends. Concerns over Facebook’s business triggered the largest one-day wipeout in the US stock market’s history last July.

Systrom wrote in a blog post on Monday that he and Krieger planned to take some time off and explore “our curiosity and creativity again.”

Their announcement came after over the increasingly repeated clashes with Facebook’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg over the fate of Instagram, according to a news report.

In a statement, Zuckerberg described Systrom and Krieger as “extraordinary product leaders,”

“I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next,” Zuckerberg said.

Koum’s exit in May followed the exit of his WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

That resulted to a reshuffling of Facebook’s executive ranks, swelling Zuckerberg’s ability to influence day-to-day operations. Zuckerberg ally Chris Cox, who is leading product development for Facebook’s main app, gained oversight of WhatsApp and Instagram, which had been given independence when Facebook bought it.

Adam Mosseri, who had been tasked to oversee Facebook’s news feed and spend a decade working closely with Zuckerberg, became Instagram head of product.

Instagram and Facebook have run independently and the two services barely mention each other. However, as regulators compelled Facebook to enhance its information safeguards for individual privacy, to fight addiction to social media, and to stop the spread of misinformation or fake news, Zuckerberg and other high-ranking leaders have under more pressure to monitor the units beyond the core social network.

Systrom and Kreiger notified the photo-sharing app’s leadership team and Facebook about their decision to leave, according to Instagram. It added that the two officials’ departure will be soon.

Systrom  and Kieger met through Stanford University and worked separately in Silicon Valley before they formed Instagram in 2010.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. The photo-sharing app has more than 1 billion active monthly users and has expanded by adding features such as messaging and short videos. In 2016, it added the ability to post slideshows that disappear in 24 hours, mimicking the ‘stories’ feature of Snap Inc’s Snapchat.

The pho app’s worldwide revenue this year has a big chance of exceeding $8 billion, according to the data from EMarketer, an advertising consultancy.

The higher amount of advertising on Instagram has seen the average price-per-ad across Facebook’s apps lower this year after a year of upswing. A new privacy law in Europe has also affected prices.

Instagram has been tagged in Silicon Valley as a flashy acquisition done right, with the team kept relatively small and Systrom having the freedom to add more features such as peer-to-peer messaging, video uploads, and advertising.

“I see Mark [Zuckerberg] practice a tremendous amount of restraint in giving us the freedom to run, but the reason why I think he gives us the freedom to run is because  when we run, it typically works,” said Systrom last June.

The app’s most recent product, IGTV, has been sluggish in gaining traction. It is offered through Instagram and as a standalone app, serving uo longer video content mostly from popular Instagram users.

Video content has been a major priority for Facebook as it tries to satisfy advertisers’ desire to stream more commercials online.

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