Instagram founders on copying Snapchat features and breaking up Facebook
Instagram Founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom on Snapchat and Facebook: Breaking up tech firms may not fix issues.
Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom are no longer associated with the company which is now owned by Facebook. The duo made a rare appearance on SXSW 2019 conference earlier this week. They talked in detail about a range of issues including the recent efforts to break up giant tech companies including Facebook. The founders also commented on borrowing Snapchat's Stories feature.
"For a long time people's profiles were filled with Snapchat links and it was clear people were trying to bridge the two products," Systrom is quoted as saying. "By bringing them into one place we gave consumers what they wanted." That's not entirely shocking, because it makes sense that Instagram wouldn't want a rival app taking user engagement away from it. It's also not Instagram's fault that people have decided to use its app instead of Snapchat's, though the inspiration for Stories is rather obvious.
Krieger, responding to a proposal by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren to split Facebook, Alphabet's Google and Amazon.com, said the companies pose different questions for regulators and lawmakers. Facebook's ownership of multiple social media apps isn't the same issue as the potential antitrust conflict with Amazon's private-label business, or the structure of Apple Inc.'s app store. Systrom, on stage Monday with Krieger at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, said there are many legitimate reasons people are upset with tech companies, from higher rents near tech hubs to Russian meddling in the US presidential election.
"We live in a time where I think the anger against big tech has increased 10-fold," Systrom said. "That doesn't mean that the answer is breaking the companies up. My fear is that a proposal to break up all tech is playing on everyone's current feeling about anti-tech rather than doing what politicians should do, which is address real problems with real solutions."
Facebook owns Instagram, which now has more than 1 billion users of its own. Systrom and Krieger left the company in September. They said that after Instagram grew more powerful, they had less autonomy to make decisions, because all their product moves would affect Facebook as well. They haven't announced what they are planning to do next.
(with inputs from Bloomberg)