If you have a smartphone and you have accounts on social media platforms then Instagram definitely has to be one of them. There are literally no smartphone and social media users out there who do not know what Instagram is. Since the day of its launch, Instagram has not slowed down, not even for a second. This social media platform has taken the world by storm within two years of its release. When the whole world was thinking that there would be no competition for Facebook, Instagram made its entry and blew everyone away. This photo and video sharing social media application were downloaded by more than a million people in less than two months of its release.
Instagram is currently owned by Facebook. Yes, for those of you who don’t know this Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012. When Facebook acquired it, Instagram had more than 27 million active users. But today Instagram had more than 1 billion active monthly users which are more than three times the population of the USA. Not only that but the number of users is growing every single day. How did this happen? Why did Facebook buy Instagram? And what made Instagram so successful? To know all this you have to go back to the time it all started.
Kevin systrom is the founder and CEO of the beloved social networking app – Instagram. He graduated from Stanford University. The first job of systrom was at Google where he worked as a corporate development associate. Kevin had also worked as an intern at Odeo which was a podcasting platform. After that, he started working at a startup for travel recommendations called Nextstop. Kevin did not have any formal training in any of the computer languages before working at Nextstop. He learned coding after office hours and weekends when he was working at Nextstop. It is during this time he built a prototype web application and named it burbn. The name was inspired by his love for bourbons and whiskey. Users could log into burbn to share their photos and plans.
Even though there were a lot of apps where you could check in based on your location the thing that made burbn unique was its photo-sharing feature. Things were about to change for Kevin after that. In March of 2009, Kevin systrom attended a party for a startup called Hunch that was based in the silicon valley. In that party, he met two venture capitalists from Andreesen Horowitz and Baseline ventures who showed interest in his application. They asked him to meet them later to discuss further plans. Kevin systrom quit his job to focus completely on burbn after his first meeting with these two venture capital firms. Baseline Ventures and Andreesen Horowitz provided the seed funding for Kevin to develop his application. In a time span of two Kevin had $500,000 to focus on his own venture.
isKevin systrom knew that he needed an expert team to build the best application for social networking. The first to join his venture was Mike Krieger who was 25 years old at that time who Kevin knew from their college days. Mike who is also a Stanford University graduate worked on a social media app called Meebo prior to that. So they knew this experience would help them. After several reassessments of burbn Kevin and Mike decided to focus on one thing on their application. That is photos especially those which are taken using mobile phones. To make that feature better they studied all the leading application that was dedicated to photography. The app that impressed them the most was Hipstamatic. This application has many features that they found interesting. It was this app that inspired them to have the option of applying filters which Instagram is known for today.
But Hipstamatic was purely for photography and one could not share them using it. Whereas Facebook was the most popular social media platform that was known for sharing photos but not for photography. So they decided to build an application that could do both. This made them remove most of the features of burbn. The only features that remained were sharing photos, liking, and commenting. They did this because they wanted users to perform only a few actions. Leaving everything aside they focused mainly on improving the photo-sharing feature of their application. The application was renamed to Instagram combining two words, instant, and telegram. It only took them eight weeks to develop the beta version which was given to their friends for testing. The application was ready for launch after a few software issues were resolved.
On Oct 6, 2010, the Instagram application was launched for iOS. On its first day of release, Instagram was downloaded 25,000 times which was just a sample for what was coming. It had 100,000 users during the first week and by the end of December, it had already crossed the one million mark. One thing that also helped Instagram was the launch of the iPhone 4 which has great camera features. Looking at the rise of Instagram more and more investors were interested in investing in the social media platform. By February 2011, Instagram has received $7 million series A funding. The valuation of Instagram at that time was nearly $25 million. This was the time when big names like Facebook and Twitter started to get interested in Instagram.
Jack Dorsey who is the co-founder of Twitter knew Kevin systrom from the days when he worked as an intern at Odeo. Twitter wanted to acquire Instagram and reportedly it has made an offer of $500 million in stock. This offer was declined by Kevin systrom. Instagram had more than 27 million users by 2012. It released its app for Android users in April of the same year. It didn’t even take 24 hours for Instagram to reach 1 million downloads on Android.
In the same month, Facebook offered Instagram one billion dollars in cash to acquire the company. One of the key provisions was to manage Instagram independently. Instagram was acquired by Facebook just before it’s initial public offering for 1 billion dollar cash and stock. Since then Instagram has released its app for Amazon fire in 2014 and Microsoft in 2016. The reason Facebook acquired Instagram is that it not only saw the potential but also realized that as an application Instagram was better than Facebook’s mobile app. By acquiring Instagram Facebook not only got a large user base but also user data which it can use to know what the audience likes.
After Instagram was acquired by Facebook it added lots of new features to it. The most noticeable of these features was posting stories that were previously alien to Instagram. These stories are not like photos or videos that you upload to Instagram as they only last for 24 hours. People could share photos and videos attaching them with information about location and hashtags. It allows users to make their profiles private or public. This will decide if your photos and videos can be viewed by everyone or just your friends. You can browse photos and videos using hashtags and locations now. The initial version use to allow photos with a 1:1 ratio but now it has changed. Additionally the application also a messaging feature.
There are only a few social media platforms that are as popular as Instagram. There is probably no other social media application that has got this level of popularity in a short period of time that Instagram has got. No one that any social media platform could compete with Facebook until Instagram came into the picture. The popularity of Instagram proves that it is here to stay.