This is astonishing, given when Facebook bought Instagram, it only had 16 employees and its founders, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, hadn't worked out how to make money from the service.
Some saw this departure as a potential opening for Snapchat, given that the company's app has always been considered a major Instagram competitor; Facebook has even stolen more than a few of Snapchat's most popular features. Under Facebook's umbrella, it has grown to reach over a billion people, making it one of the social media giant's most successful acquisitions. Now, he said, they are ready for their next chapter.
"We're planning on leaving Instagram to explore our curiosity and creativity again".
While it's not uncommon for founders to leave after their company is acquired, it's notable that Systrom and Krieger stayed on for six years after Facebook purchased their platform for $1 billion.
"I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it", he said.
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And, perhaps, Facebook might just end up competing with Instagram's co-founders. They likely chafed when Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently claimed Instagram grew faster under Facebook's corporate umbrella than if Instagram remained independent. Zuckerberg simply wished them all the best for the future and is "looking forward to seeing what they build next".
There had been reports of tension between the pair and Facebook, and the departures add to what has been a troubling year for the parent company.
Founded in 2010 by Systrom and Krieger, who met at Stanford University, in California, Instagram rapidly gained popularity as an iPhone-only photo-sharing service with a focus on square images tweaked with various colour filters.
So far this year, the company has said goodbye to WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, Head of Communications and Public Policy Elliot Schrage, VP of Partnerships Dan Rose and Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. "In the near term, we expect Facebook shares to come under meaningful pressure from the departures". It's fair to say that Instagram could have died as a little start-up in Facebook's long shadow, and it definitely benefited from the discipline, infrastructure and advertising sales machine that it accessed as a semi-autonomous region inside of mother Facebook.