Kevin Systrom Success Story - How he Built Instagram from Scratch?

Piyush Mishra Piyush Mishra
Mar 23, 2022 6 min read
Kevin Systrom Success Story - How he Built Instagram from Scratch?

The social media segment continues to develop at an exponential rate with mind-boggling advancements being announced every other day. The first decade of the 21st century saw the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Hike, and Snap Inc.

While everyone was busy with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram—a photo and video sharing application—was establishing a league of its own. The credit for Instagram’s existence goes to Kevin Systrom.

Kevin Systrom - About
Kevin Systrom - Education
Kevin Systrom - Career
Kevin Systrom - How He Built Instagram From Scratch with Mike Krieger?
Kevin Systrom - Facebook Instagram Acquisition

Kevin Systrom - About

Kevin Systrom is the founder and former CEO of Instagram. Instagram is a photo and video sharing social media application. He is known as the reason behind Instagram's success. Instagram gained 800 million monthly users in 2017 under his leadership.

Kevin Systrom was born on December 30 1983 in Holliston, Massachusetts. He developed a love for computers during his days at school. Kevin began creating programs for fun and usually pranked his friends by hacking their AOL Instant Messenger accounts. AOL was a popular instant messaging platform in the 1990s.

Kevin as a school going kid wanted to become a Disc Jockey, and used to pester Boston Beat—an old-school, vinyl-record store—by writing them emails and expressing his willingness to work for them. After a few weeks of hustling, he was given a part-time job for a few hours each week.

Kevin Systrom - Education

Kevin applied to Stanford University to pursue undergrad studies. At that time, Stanford University was well known for its deep ties with Silicon Valley. He initially enrolled in the Computer Science department, but later jumped to the Management Science and Engineering Program.

Kevin’s inclination for subjects with more practical coursework was the reason behind this shift. He was one of the twelve students who were selected to participate in the prestigious Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford University.

Kevin Systrom - Career

Odeo

Mayfield Fellows Program paved way for a four-month internship at Odeo Inc in June 2005. Odeo Inc was a platform that gave its users an easy way to record and share podcasts.

Odeo Website
Odeo Website

Kevin worked as a Technical and Business intern and also contributed to the creation of the Odeo Widget. Kevin’s work ethic and brilliance compelled Mark Zuckerberg to offer him a job, but Kevin declined as he was still an undergraduate.

Kevin Systrom with Mark Zuckerberg
Kevin Systrom with Mark Zuckerberg

Google

After completing his graduation, he went on to work with Google in 2006. He began as an Associate Product Marketing Manager and worked on Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, and many other offerings. He soon shifted to the Corporate Development Team.

NextStop

The desire to work in the social media space prompted him to join a startup named Nextstop. NextStop was a social travel recommendation platform. He was hired as a product manager. This company was created by former Google employees. By virtue of Nextstop, he was able to devote time to coding and creating app-style programs.

While working at Nextstop, he realized his future lay in entrepreneurship. As a photography fanatic, he wanted to create a platform for users to share their pictures and videos. Kevin began working on the idea.


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Kevin Systrom - How He Built Instagram From Scratch with Mike Krieger?

Kevin wanted to combine the ideas of Foursquare and Flickr. The result was a location-based photography sharing platform. He named it Burbn. To spread the idea amongst his acquaintances, he presented his work to Baseline Venture and Andreessen Horowitz in 2010. Thereafter, he decided to quit his job and solely focus on the development of his newly created prototype.

The Burbn concept was approved and appreciated by both Baseline Venture and Andreessen Horowitz; within two weeks, he received 500,000 USD for seed funding. He hired Mike Krieger as the cofounder of his company. Mike Krieger was so impressed by the prototype that he left his own startup.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger successfully created Burbn from HTML 5 check-in service. This product allowed users to make plans, post pictures, and hang out with friends.

Burbn App
Burbn App

While he was chilling out at the beach with his fiancée (now Wife) Nicole Schuetz, she told him that she would never use his app for its lack of filters. This conversation with Nicole inspired him to launch filters in Burbn.

Kevin Systrom with his wife Nicole Schuetz
Kevin Systrom with his wife Nicole Schuetz

The app was remodelled extensively. This app was available for iPhone 4 users. The reason was iPhone’s popularity and the high-quality camera with Holga-inspired lenses. These features ensured high-quality pictures. The co-founders started to work on further developments. After eight weeks, they launched Instagram on 6th October 2010.

After the launch, Kevin tweeted about a new member of the social media circuit. This was followed by press coverage and within two hours, the servers came down because they received too much traffic.

To keep Instagram afloat, they worked all night and later improved their server system by providing adequate backup and failover mechanisms. Within the first 24 hours, about 25,000 people had signed up for Instagram.

The first photo on Instagram was posted by the founder Kevin Systrom himself on July 16, 2010. The post has 292k Likes and 70.9k comments as of March 2022.

Kevin Systrom First Photo on Instagram
Kevin Systrom First Photo on Instagram

Instagram had about 7 million users within nine months. Some of the most popular celebrities on Instagram today are Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Justin Beiber, Jenifer Lopez, Rihanna and Beyonce.

Kevin Systrom - Facebook Instagram Acquisition

A lot of users had stopped using Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg proposed Kevin for the unification of both apps. Much to his surprise, Kevin received offers from Jack Dorsey and Ali Rowghani. They wanted to buy Instagram for around 500 million USD. Besides this offer, Kevin was offered support from Sequoia Capital.

Initially, Kevin wanted to maintain Instagram as an individual entity. But after an offer of 1 Billion USD from Facebook, Kevin allowed Facebook to acquire Instagram in 2012. The deal was made on the terms that Instagram would function as an independent company.

In the following years, Instagram had over 300 million active users per month which increased to 400 million users in 2015. Instagram is also well known for introducing Boomerang, an app where users can shoot a one-second burst of five photos.

In 2018, Kevin Systrom, founder & CEO of Instagram and Mike Krieger co-founder & CTO of Instagram announced that they are stepping down. Adam Mosseri is the current CEO of Instagram, he took charge after Kevin and Mike left the company. The net worth of Kevin Systrom is $1.7 billion as of 2022.

Conclusion

With a valuation of over $100 billion, Instagram is one of the most valuable companies in the world. Kevin’s idea to change the concept of photo sharing became a trendsetter. A successful entrepreneur indeed!


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FAQs

Who is the founder of Instagram?

Kevin Systrom is the founder of Instagram. He launched Instagram on 6th October 2010.

Who is the owner of Instagram?

Meta Platforms (Previously Facebook) acquired Instagram in $1 billion in 2012. Instagram was founded by Kevin Systron and Mike Krieger in 2010.

Who is the co-founder of Instagram?

Mike Krieger is the co-founder of Instagram.

Who is the CEO of Instagram?

Adam Mosseri is the current CEO of Instagram. He took charge when Kevin Systron and Mike Krieger left the company in 2018.

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