At this point it’s common knowledge that Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to leave Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, almost seven years after being acquired by Facebook.
Most of the conversation surrounding their departure has focused on rumors of tension between the co-founders and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg reportedly had become more involved on the Instagram side of the business to the chagrin of the Instagram founders.
Whether or not tensions between Instagram’s co-founders and Zuckerberg were the reason behind the departure, let’s get one thing out of the way. They stayed with Facebook for a very long time after being acquired, and over the course of that time, they built Instagram into a digital powerhouse that, in many respects, rivals its parent company. So it’s not that surprising that with full bank accounts, a clear mission accomplished for Instagram and more than five years under their belts with the parent company that the two would decide to leave.
The question isn’t why did they leave. The question is what’s next for Instagram?
Expect more Instagram Emphasis
Instagram’s about to start feeling much less like a side business and take more of a center stage role for Facebook. We can expect Zuckerberg to get more involved, and we can expect more Instagram developments to be announced at f8 and Instagram being a major focus on earnings calls.
Don’t be surprised if one could mistake Instagram as the parent company.
Instagram Will Take the Lead
Since Instagram was acquired, it really benefitted from the testing of features on Facebook prior to being ported over to Instagram. For example, messaging was first emphasized by Facebook, which evolved into Messenger, which eventually made its way to Instagram. Facebook Watch launched as a hub for high-quality video content, and it was only recently that GTV launched on Instagram.
With more emphasis being placed on Instagram, expect more of the latest and greatest features to launch on Instagram before being ported over to other properties—including Facebook. We saw one example of this starting to happen this past week when Promoted Stories on Facebook expanded to advertisers worldwide only after being tested, perfected and re-tested on Instagram for some time.
All of this means Facebook will be taking more of a backseat.
Instagram’s Cultural Cache Will Be On Full Display
Facebook’s teen problem has been well documented, but when it comes to young users it’s had Instagram, which currently has 12.8 million US teen social network users. That’s still behind Snapchat’s 16.4 million, but Instagram clearly has the momentum behind it from an overall business health perspective.
We’re going to see an even greater emphasis by Facebook to let Instagram take centerstage when it comes to culture. Expect Instagram to show up in even more conversations, ad campaigns and high-profile events. As Facebook loses its luster, expect Instagram to take up the mantle. The thing to watch will be whether or not Facebook botches things without Systrom’s and Krieger’s involvement.
A New Chapter
It’s a new era for Instagram. It’s leaders have stepped aside, but that was certainly foreseeable and something Facebook’s been prepared for. Now, we see where it goes from here. With Zuckerberg taking on a greater role when it comes to Instagram, expect the spotlight to shift to it more and more moving forward.