The departures of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger follow those of WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton earlier this year
The departures of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger from the Facebook-owned company this week are the latest executive exits to raise questions about the social media company’s direction amidst a changing user base and new regulatory pressures
Systrom and Krieger did not outline the reasons they were leaving Instagram except for Systrom’s remark in a blog post that the two planned to take time off and explore “our curiosity and creativity again”.
Systrom is chief executive and Krieger chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app, which they founded in 2010 and which was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion (£760m) in 2012.
They notified Facebook of their decision only on Monday and planned to leave soon, according to Instagram.
In May Jan Koum, co-founder of Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, also left the company, followed by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.
Like Systrom and Krieger, Koum and Acton had been central figures at WhatsApp, which, like Instagram, is one of Facebook’s most prominent services.
Instagram is Facebook’s fastest-growing revenue generator, in part due to increasing advertising on the service.
Facebook is under fire on a number of fronts, notably for numerous privacy scandals.
The debacle involving now-defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica saw Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testify before Congress on the company’s data practices.
Other issues, including the network’s efforts to stem misinformation and political propaganda and its efforts to attract younger users, led to a drop in its stock price in July that was the biggest one-day decline in US stock market history.
After Instagram’s acquisition in 2012 and that of WhatsApp in 2014, both services were allowed to operate independently and to retain the distinctive cultures that had already attracted large numbers of users.
Instagram, for instance, retained a simple interface that is vastly different from what some would consider Facebook’s clutter.
The situation has changed in recent months, however, with Facebook under pressure to exert greater control over its properties.
Koum’s departure from WhatsApp led to a reshuffle that gave Zuckerberg more control over Facebook’s operations.
More Facebook executives were transferred to Instagram, including Adam Mosseri, who had worked closely with Zuckerberg and became Instagram’s head of product.
Another Zuckerberg ally, Chris Cox, gained oversight of both Instagram and WhatsApp.
If the Instagram executives left because of tension with Facebook, they made no mention of it in their farewell messages.
Systrom said in a blog post that the two were “excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook”, while Krieger said on Twitter that it was “time for the next chapter”.
Zuckerberg, likewise, said he had enjoyed working with the pair and was “looking forward to seeing what they build next”.