Instead of hurting about losing independence in Facebook, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom told me that it was an inevitable sign of the app's triumph. Today at South By South West, Systrom and co-founder Mike Krieger sat down for their first on stage together after leaving Facebook in September. They discussed their superhero origin stories, social media authenticity, threatening big technology regulation, and how they explore what to do next.
Krieger grew up and hit "show source" on websites while Systrom hacked on AOL booter programs that would kick people off instant messenger, learning both how code can affect real people. As Instagram grew popular, Krieger described the "incredible" feeling of fighting server fires and attempting to keep the dear app online, even though it meant programming in the middle of a sushi restaurant or camping holiday. He even revived Instagram while it was full in the middle of the night, and woke up without reminding the featt, confused about who had solved the problem. The former Instagram CTO urged the founders not to fall into the "recruitment death spiral" where you are too busy to recruit, which makes you busy, which makes you too keen to recruit …
But fortunately, the founders were also willing to dig in
Independence vs. Importance.
"In some ways, being less autonomy is a function of Instagram winning. If Instagram had just been this niche photography for photographers, we would probably work with that app for 20 years. Instead, what happened, it became better and better and better, and it improved, and it became a size where it was meaningfully important for this company, "Systrom explains. "If this thing comes to the scale we want it to come to, why do we make this deal, then the autonomy won't be that much because it's so important. So in some ways it's just an inevitable thing if you succeed So you can choose, you will be unsuccessful and small and have all the autonomy in the world, or no? "
Krieger followed up with "I think if you are studying … all the current companies, those who succeed internally, have become so important to the acquiring company that it is almost irresponsible not to think about what the right models for integration are. The advice I generally give is good with it if you succeed? And if you are not, you should not make an appointment. "If the loss of autonomy is not Can be avoided, they suggest selling to a rocket ship that will invest in and take care of your baby instead of shift priorities.
Asked if he sees that network anger feels surreal, Systrom said that money does not make you happy and "I do not really wake up in the morning and look at my bank account." I noted that it is the practical privilege to have a great one.
The couple threw cold water on the idea that it was forced to make more money drove them out of the company. "I remember having this series of conversations with Mark and other people on Facebook, and they are like" You just joined in, don't worry about revenue generation, we're going to figure this out on the road. "And there actually came much more from us saying" 1. It is important for us to contribute to the general Fb Inc.. . and 2. Any person associated with before you have ads is a person for whom you need to place ads. "Systrom added that" to be clear, we were the ones who pushed the revenue generation, not the other way around, because we thought Instagram had to make some money. It costs a lot to drive. . . We pressed hard on it so we would be a successful device within Facebook, and I think we got to that point, which is very good. "
But from Instagram's remaining independence, Instagram's recovery of its app approximates non-edged images, shifted to the algorithm, and the release of stories. To have to challenge the basics of a business," You may have a couple of years of relevance when building a product. If you do not discover it every quarter or every year, then you fall out of relevance and you go away. "
The latest launch was inspired by giving prismatic identity where people could share non-highlights that would not haunt them, but also, Systrom admits that" Honestly a great reason it was long, people's profiles were filled with Snapchat links, and it was clear that people were trying to bridge the two products. So by bringing the two products [Feed and Stories] to one place, we gave the consumer what they wanted. "Although I asked someone in the crowd who was still crazy about the algorithm to stir, SXSW was turned into a snake grave.
Regulation Big Tech
With Systrom and Krieger gone, Facebook goes ahead with plans to integrate Instagram with Facebook and WhatsApp more closely, which includes uniting their messaging system, as some say is designed to make Facebook's apps more difficult to break up with antitrust regulation. What does Systrom think about the integration? "The more people available to speak with, the more useful the platform becomes. And I buy that task. . . Whether they actually want to talk to people on different platforms, I can't tell the future, so I don't know. "Systrom said.
Krieger recommended Facebook tries to prove that users want it across app messages before embarking on a great technical challenge to merge their backends. When I asked if Systrom ever had a burning desire for Instagram Direct message as a WhatsApp user, he admitted "Personal no." But in a show of respect and solid media training, he told his former employer "Bravo to make a great effort and go for it. "
Then it was time for the most difficult draft issue: their thoughts on presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren's proposal to regulate big tech and reverse Facebook's acquisition of Instagram." Are we getting our job back? "Systrom joked, trying to diffuse the tension. Krieger urged more attention to downstream externalities, and specificity on which issues a breakout law, he will have differentiation between regulating Facebook's acquisitions, Amazon white marking and sales products, and Apple's right to run the only iOS App Store.
Acquisitions vs. competition
"We live in a time where I think anger against big tech has increased ten times – whether it's because house prices in your neighborhood have gone up, whether it's because you don't like Russian involvement in elections – it's a long time list of reasons why people are angry with technology right now, and some of them I think are well-founded, "confirmed Systrom." That doesn't mean the answer is breaking all companies up. Breaking up the companies is a very specific recipe for a very specific problem. If you want to solve financial problems, there are ways to do that. If you want to fix Russian interference, there are ways to do it. Breaking up a company does not solve these problems. It does not mean that businesses should not be broken up if they become too big, and they are monopoly and they are causing problems, but being large in themselves is not a crime. "
Systrom took a jab at Warren & "S tech literacy and said" part of what is surprised I am that politics in general is that all technology should be broken up and it feels to me again not nuanced enough and it shows me that understanding of the problem is not there . I think it's going to take a more nuanced suggestion, but my fear is that something like a suggestion to break up all technology plays on everyone's current sense of anti-tech rather than doing what I mean politicians should do as is. Address real issues and provide real solutions. "
The two founders then gave some creepy logic for why Instagram's acquisition contributed to consumers." Like someone who ran the company in how many years inside Facebook? Six? There was a lot of competition internally, and I think better ideas came out because of it. We grew both companies, not just one company. It is very difficult question. Which consumer was injured because it grew to the size it did? I think there is a strong argument that actually the acquisition worked for consumers. "It ignores the fact that if Instagram and Facebook were rivals, they had to compete for privacy and treat their users well. Even though they inspired each other to build more engaging products, it doesn't matter how badly consumers have been done.
Krieger suggested that the acquisition actually stimulated competition by making Instagram a role mode. "It was a gold jump that companies were like," I'll be Instagram of X. Instagram of Audio, Instagram of Video, Instagram of Dog Photos. " So people start new companies and try to build them out to try to achieve what we've got. "But no start-up in addition to Snapchat, which had already launched, has actually grown into rival Instagram, and to see Instagram sticking to Facebook empire would probably have inspired many more startups – some of them can't find funding since investors doubt their odds against a combined Facebook and Instagram
tea for college friends, We give ourselves time to get curious about things again, says Krieger. They are still exploring, so there was no great disclosure about their follow-up measures. But Systrom says they built Instagram by finding the mega-trend of cameras on phones and asking what they want, "and the question is, what's next wave?"