Ex-Employees Revealed That Facebook Bought Instagram In Fear Of Google+ and Twitter

When Facebook first made the $1 Billion deal with merely a photo sharing startup - Instagram, back in 2012, everyone was shocked. No one believed what those 13 employees at Instagram created, which later today stands as the backbone of Facebook's growth.

If we go by stats Instagram enjoys more than 1 billion users and surprisingly among them more than 500 million also use the feature of Stories daily. Bare in mind Instagram added Stories in order to directly compete with Snapchat and due to the immense amount of likeness it received from the user, Instagram’s value grew up to more than $100 billion, which is one-fifth of Facebook’s total market capitalization.

The buying spree didn’t stop at Instagram, in fact, it was just the starting point as Facebook continued with more strategic acquisitions by paying $19 billion to buy messaging company WhatsApp in 2014 and more recently earlier this week, also announced the plans to buy CTRL-Labs too, a startup that will let users control their computers with mind.

However some interesting details related to these acquisitions have been revealed by former employees who worked with Facebook during the times of Instagram acquisition. Although they asked to be treated as anonymous for this article but at the same time they revealed that Facebook didn’t buy Instagram in the fear of dealing with a direct competitor in the near future. Instead they wanted to get rid of Twitter becoming more powerful as the tweets based micro-blogging network had also bid for Instagram and in order to be in direct competition to the almost obsolete now, Google-Plus. Facebook took the step while it was in its initial phases of massive growth.

Twitter wasn’t really posing any threat to Facebook’s popularity but Google+ was as a lot of critics praised Google’s attempt, especially for putting out innovative features to control privacy as well of users. But that being said, Facebook still had 845 million monthly average users, with Twitter having 100 million and Google+ had just become a new rage in town with 90 million.

The story didn’t end here as there was one massive problem that Facebook kept on struggling with in those days and that was its strategy for mobile.

Mark Zuckerberg and his team had originally planned to make Facebook work on a web based technology called HTML 5, that was also supposed to work efficiently on all mobile platforms without much customization. But in the end the idea didn’t turn out well despite of writing the apps so well for each platform.

It was the same 2011 when Facebook’s apps were almost pathetic and all over the place, which also raised a lot of pressure to fix them before the social media giant had any plans of making it big in the future because after all mobile apps were going to play a significant role in where Facebook stands today.

The developers continued playing their own tricks to optimize the app and grow on mobile. It was that moment when Facebook decided to release its different features in the form of apps and Messenger was born on August 2011.

Later it was the turn of spinning out a photo app and Instagram’s popularity caught the attention of Facebook employees as well in the process when Dirk Stoop, who was the product manager in charge of Facebook’s Photos products, was leading the camera app development. The matter become such a point of concern for Zuckerberg too that he started taking opinions from employees about Instagram.

One discussion after another on how can people interact with photos in a better way on social media and Zuckerberg landed up to Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram. For the start the co-founder of Facebook used to call Systrom to talk about any issues that the company had with Facebook’s API but as soon as Twitter placed the bid of $500 million, Mark just couldn’t resist it.

At that time, it was also seen that Instagram users often exported their photos on the mobile app to their Twitter accounts. Facebook realizing that Twitter can have a sudden leg up in mobile, stepped in and geared up for the tricky technology shift.

Zuckerberg invited Systrom to his home in Menlo Park, California, near Facebook’s headquarters and bought Instagram for $1 Billion, after knowing that the previous funding round ended at $500 million. He also called Amin Zoufonoun, Facebook’s head of corporate development, to fulfill the documentation requirements within just a week.

On Monday April 9, 2012 the news came a shock to Facebook’s own employees as well because this was Facebook’s first acquisition ever. The company did roll out with Camera app later after it went public on the stock exchange but despite it being neat and had the built-in features of Instagram, it was just not required then.

The decision may have been a risky one but Zuckerberg was sure that if Facebook had to become successful on mobile devices, this was just the start and if in case nothing had happened, Instagram would have been Mark’s another horse in the race against Twitter and Google+.

Ever since the acquisition, Instagram has been the reason of stellar success for Facebook so much that it has now even overshadowed the core app in terms of engagement.

Systrom and Krieger resigned last year on September 24, 2018 and they do deserve all the credit for creating the game changing photo-sharing app but in the end its Mark Zuckerberg that gave a boost to the app to make Facebook dominate the social media world by all means.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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