Just two short years ago, entrepreneur Kevin Systrom saw endless opportunities in the realm of information technology and decided to teach himself programming. Along with his friend Mike Krieger, Systrom built a small photo-sharing application known as Instagram. Seemingly overnight, Instagram went from having only a handful of users to having more users than any other free photo-sharing application available. In fact, the application became so popular that it attracted the attention of Facebook, which offered to purchase the company in 2012.
The Story of Instagram
Instagram began as a private HTML5 mobile web app known as Burbn, which was created by Kevin Systrom on a trial-and-error basis. After discussing the product with Mike Krieger, Systrom decided to re-focus and rename it before its formal launch. The two entrepreneurs chose to focus the product on photo sharing, and they renamed it “Instagram” because they felt that photos shared online were similar to instant telegrams. After only 8 weeks of work on the product, they developed a beta-tested, bug-free application and made it available to the public.
The Facebook Acquisition
On April 9, 2012, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had agreed to purchase Instagram for $1 billion in cash and Facebook stock. Instagram garnered attention from Facebook because the application facilitates easy photo sharing, which is one of Facebook’s main goals as well. According to Forbes.com, it is also possible that Facebook wanted to purchase Instagram before a similar company, such as Twitter or Google, made the same strategic move.
After agreeing to the merger with Facebook, Instagram promised its users that the Instagram app would change in only positive ways. Kevin Systrom, the current CEO, assured users that they would still be able to share pictures on other social media networks and that all of the unique features of the application would remain intact. Systrom also indicated that Facebook and Instagram would be working together to improve the quality of the Instagram experience. As the two products are integrated, sharing of photos from Instagram to Facebook is likely to become much faster and easier.
After only two years of work on the Instagram application, co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are selling their product for a huge profit. Ironically, the product’s purchaser is one of the most well known examples of small companies going global: Facebook. Launched by Mark Zuckerberg, who was a college student at the time, Facebook went from a start-up operation to an international success in just a few years.
The stories of both Instagram and Facebook indicate that the American Dream is still alive and well. Entrepreneurs with limited resources or experience are still capable of creating products and services that appeal to consumers. Even when these entrepreneurs cannot afford advertising, social media networks and other mobile technologies facilitate the sharing of information about valuable products or services all over the world in real time. Under this system, even the most meager start-up operation can go global with a good product.