How Facebook could screw up Instagram now that its founders are leaving

Dan Frommer, writing for Re/Code on how the Instagram founders leaving could leave it open for Facebook to screw up:

Instagram’s founders are finally leaving Facebook, six years after they sold their startup to Mark Zuckerberg. We’ll skip the drama of their departure in this post. This is about keeping a great thing going — and how Facebook could potentially mess it up.

Instagram is, in many parts of the world, the most culturally relevant technology since texting. And that has everything to do with its founders — Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger — and their teams, who have meticulously shaped it since creation, executing near-flawlessly with tight control.

Walking through the things that make Instagram so special — its network, product, experience and institutional taste — it’s easy to see vulnerability in the wrong hands. Facebook can’t afford to screw this up — especially now, as it increasingly relies on Instagram for growth and for engagement from younger users.


For the near term, it’s likely that Instagram’s network and product will keep it going strong. (It’s not like there’s a suitable alternative!) Many interesting and talented people still work there and won’t necessarily follow the founders out the door. But over the years, it’s crucial to keep a strong sense of identity of what it uniquely means to be Instagram or it will lose its magic. Who will do that? Is that something Mark Zuckerberg cares about?

Apple has largely kept its impeccable institutional taste after Steve Jobs’s death because Tim Cook is a very classy CEO, and Jony Ive and his industrial design sensibility have long been the driving force of the company. So things keep going. YouTube has also done well since its founders left many years ago — credit to Google — so there’s hope.

Dan makes a few good points in his article, so hopefully, Facebook will leave Instagram alone and not mess with it too much.