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More than 100-million users. The billion dollar acquisition. Over 1.5-million sign ups on Android on the first day its app launched. Instagram’s rise has been swift — but co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom isn’t quite done yet: he’s aiming for a billion users.
Speaking at LeWeb in Paris today, Systrom discussed his plans for the photo sharing service and explained the dynamics of Instagram’s relationship with Facebook to CrunchFund’s MG Siegler.
After the startup announced that it was going to be sold to Facebook for US$1-billion (which was later reduced after Facebook’s stock price dipped), users largely resisted the move, fearing that the service would alter too much, they’d change the filters or stop running as a standalone app. But Systrom feels like they’ve managed to mitigate the angst by keeping the pace of innovation and announcements up.
Extra help and more resources
Systrom said that right now, Instagram is focusing on growing its offering by incorporating more team members from Facebook and leveraging the social networking giant’s massive resources. He said that while people assume acquisitions have a negative effect on the company, that’s not the case here.
“It’s very integrated,” said Systrom. He said that even though Instagram has moved into Facebook HQ, it’s still functioning independently, although they members add to the Instagram team when Facebook employees move their desks across the office. None of the original employees have left.
The experience Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg have had with surviving periods of rapid growth is being used to ensure Instagram also thrives. Systrom said that the team is working on finding ways to take advantage of Facebook’s billion users. “We’re at a scale now that we have the ability to be a billion person company,” he said. “I actually feel like we’re changing the world”.
Integrated but independent
He explained that, like Facebook’s Messenger app, “Instagram exists outside Facebook for a very good reason.” The team is working to find the sweetspot in the degree of overlap between the different social media platforms — for example, now Facebook likes can be sent over to Instagram.
He used the example of YouTube’s acquisition by Google, where the product remained essentially the same and independent, but leveraged the infrastructure and resources provided by the bigger company, to explain their relationship.
With all these extra resources, many people are wondering if Instagram is planning on incorporating video functionality in addition to static images. While Systrom isn’t writing off the move, he’s not convinced that the timing is right at the moment.
“Mobile video will happen, it’s a matter of when,” he said. “It’s all about shifts in technology and opportunities that get created. Instagram was special because we launched just as the iPhone 4 came out and everyone had a camera in their pocket that was as good as a point and shoot.”
Lauren Granger is currently in Paris covering LeWeb.