In 2012, eight years ago now, Facebook announced the purchase of Instagram. An application then smaller and that at first was only available for iPhone but that in a short time had reached 30 million users. The amount paid by the ‘like’ social network to acquire the then application was between 750 and 1,000 million dollars.
Today there are more than 1,000 million active users on Instagram, and the social network of photos and stories has long been the platform that is seeing the most increase in both its number of users and the time they spend on it, and it is safe to say your advertising revenue. And if we say ‘to be sure’ it is because until now FACEBOOK as parent company has preferred never to break down its income by platform. Perhaps because it has been a while since it beat Facebook, its parent social network, in profitability? We don’t know that for now.
What does seem clear is that in these eight years the Facebook umbrella as an Instagram buyer has been swinging from a relationship of greater independence to one where it hardly exists. And the best proof perhaps is that the founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left their positions as managers in late 2018. According to the official version, due to differences in approach.
It is in these “differences of approach” that the book has entered to the bottom No filter: The inside story of Instagram (Unfiltered: The Story Behind Instagram) Posted by Bloomberg journalist Sarah Frier, who has spent more than a decade covering current affairs for social media-based companies.
The book -which is already available in an ebook for everyone- counts after dozens of interviews with workers from both networks and especially with Systrom -Frier says that Zuckerberg only responded to a couple of emails and that he sent a statement in which He said that “the good of Instagram is the good of Facebook” – how the social network of photographs gradually lost independence in the criteria of its internal team until it found its founders.
Frier describes Zuckerberg to a certain extent as a person obsessed with stopping any platform that could surpass Facebook, which would lead to the acquisition of WhatsApp also – whose founders also came out and not with good words – and suspicious of any decision that is made contrary to his opinion, at least in the long term.
Zuckerberg is extremely paranoid all the time about whether Facebook’s popularity will fade and whether they will remain relevant. When Snapchat appeared, they tried to buy Snapchat. When TikTok appeared, they tried to buy Musical.ly, which was TikTok’s predecessor. They bought WhatsApp. They are trying to buy these companies that will threaten Facebook if they grow too big, ”Frier writes.
Perhaps because of the extensive conversations he has with Systrom and Instagram workers, the story suffers from putting too much light on the daughter social network and demonizing the matrix, but that does not prevent its pages from having more than one revealing anecdote about this relationship. , sometimes potentiator of both brands and other times toxic.
Zuckerberg: the omnipotent boss
Instagram was founded in 2010 by Systrom and Krieger initially as an app that through its filters made the somewhat deficient photos that people then took with their mobiles improved clearly.
Its success was exponential in a short time, and when Facebook acquired it, it also absorbed the 13 employees who then had, in principle, according to the book, with total freedom to continue implementing their ideas.
However, all this was changing little by little. Initially, the Instagram team relegated the tasks of supervising inappropriate content on Facebook, and that was one of the ways to gradually lose that agreed independence, especially after Zuckerberg put Instagram supervisor Chris Cox to supervise of product that would also end up coming out a few months ago.
“Facebook had low-paid outside contractors who quickly clicked on posts that contained or related to nudity, violence, abuse, identity theft, and more to determine if something violated the rules and needed to be removed. Instagram employees would no longer be that close to their worst content. Their nightmares would be officially outsourced, ”excerpt from No Filter.
The book also recounts a passage that nicely draws that portrait of Zuckerberg as a Facebook health freak, which occurred just after the IGTV unveiling event in mid-2018, just a few months before Systrom and Krieger left their posts. .
An hour after the event ended, her iPhone flashed. It was Chris Cox, the executive whom Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had recently put in charge of all of his company’s apps.
“We have a problem,” said Cox. “Mark is very mad at your icon.”
“Really?” Systrom asked. “What happens?”
“It looks a lot like the Facebook Messenger icon,” Cox said, referring to Facebook’s chat service, which also had a horizontal lightning bolt shape in the center. Zuckerberg couldn’t bear IGTV competing visually with a sister product. “
No Filter excerpt
Reluctance to mass advertising and the ‘copy’ to Snapchat
No Filter also tells, always according to Instagram workers, how Facebook drove the implementation of advertising on the platform from the beginning, despite the fact that its founders preferred to take this with caution.
Instagram started showing advertising in 2013, initially with only one ad per day per brand, a threshold that has long been exceeded. The choice here, obviously, was between the position of the buyer and that of some creators that Frier also portrays as somewhat utopian.
“Systrom was not concerned with building the world’s largest social media platform, he wanted to create a place on the Internet” where the most interesting people who were the best at what they did could be followed, praised, and emulated by others, ” Frier writes.
Nor is the controversial copy of the Snapchat stories left after the story after Facebook could not buy it, something that Instagram again refused, according to the book, but which ended up being applied from above by Facebook and that Today it has become one of the great successes of the platform.
This being the case, everything seems to end up filling the glass with the Cambridge Analytica scandals, unveiled months before the founders of Instagram made the decision to leave.
How much money does Instagram give to Facebook?
Like all the internal stories that have some juice, No Filter ends up leaving a clear portrait: an Instagram too idealistic versus a voracious Facebook of numbers and users. Surely, without their union today Instagram would not be what it is, but perhaps it would also have been a more comfortable place and less exploited by ads to maintain its original idea. Now, how long would Instagram have existed without lending itself to monetization via ads?
What seems evident is that today Instagram is one of the most profitable businesses on FACEBOOK, which, as we say, does not break down its income by platforms. The only solvent reference to this was offered by Bloomberg a few months ago, when referring to internal sources, he published that Instagram generated $ 19 billion in advertising revenue, not far from the 21,000 that Facebook generated despite having half of active users .