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C.E.O. Kevin Systrom on Instagram’s 5-Year Anniversary

C E O Kevin Systrom on Instagram s 5 Year Anniversary Vanity Fair


Let’s talk about how you came to be, five years ago.

[Co-founder Mike Krieger] and I both realized really quickly that something big was going to happen, because of everyone walking around with cell phones with a camera attached to them. I mean, before it was relegated to simply film or big, clunky DSLRs and professional photographers. What really happened was that everyone got to use the photograph as a powerful medium of communication. We saw that coming, whether we were lucky doesn’t actually matter, because we were positioned really well to take advantage of that movement.

We identified three problems. No. 1: Most photos apps back then were really slow, and networks were really slow. We worked really hard to make sure photos were uploaded really efficiently. I mean, we only uploaded a small square.

Another was that people wanted to share these photos on many different networks, so we allowed you to share on multiple networks all at once with the touch of a button.

The final one, and I think this is the most important insight, was that if you looked around at one of the reasons why people weren’t taking photos, [it] was because the big, grainy lenses of earlier cell phones were so bad that you needed something to improve them. I had spent a lot of time in Photoshop as a photographer myself, so I decided to bring the power of something complex in a single tap in the form of a filter. At the time, there were a bunch of filter apps. We decided to combine the social aspect with the filter aspect and obviously the rest is history.

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All three of those problems they identified were real problems.

What they don't say is that a hundred companies were trying to solve this problem.

Instagram is the survivor, like YouTube before it, but its success was due in part to luck.

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