How a new book about Instagram changes our understanding of the founders’ departure
Today let’s take a break from discussing our global pandemic to talk about one of my favorite books of recent months: Sarah Frier’s No Filter:
The Inside Story of Instagram, which is out today. It’s a meticulously reported, beautifully told story about one of the most successful apps ever created. No Filter is, at root, a marriage story — one about the union between Instagram’s precocious cofounders and Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. And while we have known for some time now that the marriage eventually went bad — Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger stepped down from their roles in September 2018 — No Filter fills in many of the details. And, along the way, it changed the way I thought about how Facebook acquires companies.
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The narrative about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram up to now has been something like this: Zuckerberg sees a fast-growing new social app, offers it a then eye-popping $1 billion, and brings the team aboard with a promise of near-total independence. Instagram attains outsized success, but that independence wanes over time, eventually resulting in a rupture that sent Systrom and Krieger packing.