Facebook's Woes Grow as Instagram Co-Founders Reportedly Bail

By Tom McKay on at

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are planning on leaving their jobs at the company in the coming weeks, according to a report in the New York Times on Monday.

According to a person who spoke with the paper under the condition of anonymity, the two high-ups are not explaining why they are leaving Instagram, which has been a subsidiary of Facebook since it was acquired for an (at the time astonishing) offer of $1 billion in cash and stock in 2012. Systrom and Krieger are apparently planning on taking some time off after leaving Facebook, though what follows that is unclear. The Times wrote:

Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger did not give a reason for their departure, according to the people, but said they planned to take time off after leaving Instagram. Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger have known each other since 2010, when they met and transformed a software project built by Mr. Systrom into what eventually became Instagram, which now has more than one billion users.

A spokeswoman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not immediately have a comment.

Instagram is one of Facebook’s most important properties and recently hit a reported one billion users. Though its goliath owner has weathered a number of controversies as of late – such as the immensely damaging Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook-engineered election interference, and use of the site to incite violence – without more detail it’s unknown whether the co-founders are jumping ship over that.

However, another well-known magnate of a Facebook subsidiary, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, resigned from both his company and Facebook’s board after reportedly becoming concerned executives planned to undermine the encrypted chat service’s security for marketing purposes.

Whatever the cause of the pair's departure, it’s probably safe to say that this can’t be good news for Facebook’s management team. Facebook’s stock hit a precipitous decline in July after an earnings report indicated it had grown so big it was struggling to find new users, and the last few months haven’t seen a rebound. As the Times noted, Instagram was one of Facebook’s best investments:

As Facebook saw a threat in young people departing the network for Snapchat, a rival photo-sharing network, Instagram was quick to shift and recreate one of Snapchat’s key features of online stories. Since then, Instagram has surged further in popularity, while Snapchat’s growth has been inconsistent.

The executive shuffle also creates an open question of who will take over lead roles at Instagram, whose former chief operating officer Marne Levine, the Times added, returned to Facebook last month. [New York Times]