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Instagram’s CEO – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

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Insightful analysis by Ben Thompson on Instagram’s founders departures from Facebook.

Or Systrom and Instagram could offload all of those responsibilities to Facebook and continue being extraordinary product leaders”, and pocket $1 billion to boot (and, to be fair to Systrom and team, that understates their gains; that $1 billion included $700 million in Facebook stock, which today is worth nearly $4 billion). It is a defensible choice (for Instagram anyways; not for the regulators that approved the deal), but the implication is that, title notwithstanding, Systrom was never the CEO of Instagram; to be a CEO is to have a company that can stand on its own.

The difference from Zuckerberg — Instagram’s real CEO — is stark. Facebook launched in February, 2004, and sold its first ad two months later. True, Facebook Flyers” bear little resemblance to the News Feed ads that power the company today, but Zuckerberg’s immediate instinct to build not just a product but a company is notable.

Wether it is Instagram or WhatsApp, the founders that sold those companies were made extraordinarily wealthy. They should not be surprised when the company that made them that wealthy takes the products in exactly the direction that was supremely obvious they would — advertising and mining private data.

Posted on September 25, 2018

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