Instagram’s co-founders have resigned from the Facebook-owned company

Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are leaving the company — signaling further troubles for the enormous social media company.

Reports suggesting that the pair had resigned their positions as CEO and chief technology officer, respectively, first appeared in The New York Times on Monday, September 24, but a statement issued by Systrom a short while later confirmed their departure from Instagram and parent company Facebook.

“Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team,” Systrom said in the statement, adding they were “ready for our next chapter.”

He said both he and Krieger are “planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.”

Finally, Systrom said they both “remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook” adding that they’re now transitioning “from leaders to two users in a billion.”

Their departure follows that of Facebook’s top sales exec Bob Gruters, who quit Facebook in September — and joined Digital Trends as Chief Revenue Officer.

In a statement released to Digital Trends by Instagram, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Systrom and Krieger as “extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

According to the Times’ report, Systrom, 34, and Krieger, 32, informed Facebook’s top team of their decision on Monday.

The reported departures come as social media platforms face increasing scrutiny about the content that appears on their services, with serious concerns raised over Russian interference in U.S. elections both past and upcoming. There’s no suggestion at this stage, however, that the growing pressure on social media services played any role in Systrom and Krieger’s departure, though its fair to say that Instagram has escaped much of the trouble experienced by its parent company over the last couple of years. Facebook’s stock peaked at nearly $220 in July; it hovers around $160 today, a vast lost of money that signals serious trouble for the company.

Instagram launched in 2010 and picked up 100,000 users in just its first week. When Facebook acquired it for $1 billion in 2012, the photo-sharing app had 50 million users, but since then Systrom has taken Instagram from strength to strength, expanding the service to a billion monthly active users globally in June 2018.

WhatsApp all over again?

Systrom and Krieger’s reported departure mirrors the resignations of WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton. The popular messaging app was acquired by Facebook for an incredible $19 billion in 2014, but Koum, at the time CEO of WhatsApp, left in April 2018.

In a message at the time, Koum said only that he was “taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology,” though a report in the Washington Post suggested his resignation came after a clash with Facebook over data privacy issues as well as the messaging service’s business strategy.

Four months after he left in November 2017, Acton tweeted his support for the #DeleteFacebook movement that had gained momentum following Facebook’s damaging Cambridge Analytica scandal.

There haven’t been any obvious signs of tension between Instagram’s top team and Facebook, but that’s not to say there wasn’t any. We’ll just have to see if either Systrom or Krieger choose to offer any more information about their decision in the coming days and weeks.

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