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What is the genesis of Instagram? - Quora

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Awesome time capsule of what Kevin Systrom thought back in Oct 2010 when it launched…

Less is more!

They took a feature and turned it into a product?!

They were really good at one thing and rode a wave that was under-served, at a time when everyone thought it was over-served.


Their origin story sounds a lot like Flickr's: We built something no one wanted, pulled out the photo part, and released it as a new product, and it took off like a bandit.

What I don't understand is this.

Instagram was almost exactly the same app as PicPlz, which came out before it.

In fact, that's why Andreessen Horowitz did not invest in Instagram's VC round.

So why did Instagram become huge and PicPlz did not?

They were pretty much the same application, except that:

1. Instagram beat PicPlz to iPhone. (PicPlz was Android first.)

2. Instagram got featured by Apple's AppStore. (A big bump.)

3. Instagram uploaded the image in the background, which made it seem faster.

Anything else?

In retrospect, this Creation Myth seems so simple:

We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing. We saw mobile photos as an awesome opportunity to try out some new ideas. We spent 1 week prototyping a version that focused solely on photos. It was pretty awful. So we went back to creating a native version of Burbn. We actually got an entire version of Burbn done as an iPhone app, but it felt cluttered, and overrun with features. It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram. (We renamed because we felt it better captured what you were doing -- an instant telegram of sorts. It also sounded camera-y.)

But the fact that only one company became Instagram demonstrates that their success was not predetermined. Yes, they built a single simple app. So do a lot of people.

Not sure anything can be learned from their example.

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