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Who Owns Instagram?

Published February 1, 2024

Short answer: Instagram is owned by Meta Platforms Incorporated, the parent company of Facebook. And of course, Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, CEO, and chairman of Meta, so you could say he owns Instagram by extension.

However, this is the short answer. It does nothing to tell you how this popular social media app originated. Meta only bought the service in April 2012, so who owned Instagram before then?

In this article, we’ll walk you through a brief history of Instagram, showing you its transformations from its humble beginnings.

Who were the founders of Instagram?

Instagram was launched in 2010 by two Stanford University graduates, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. But the story started a bit earlier.

In 2009, Kevin Systrom was working at a travel recommendations start-up called NextStop. With his knowledge of coding, he built a prototype of a Web app called Burbn, which was designed for users to post their travel plans and pictures to help with travel recommendations.

He worked on this application in his free time till March 2010, when he attended a party in Silicon Valley. There, he met two venture capitalists who took an interest in his work. They decided to fund his development of the application, causing Kevin to quit his job at NextStop to work on his project full-time.

With the funding from the venture capitalists, he built a team to work on Burbn. The first person to join him was his friend from Stanford, Mike Krieger.

From Burbn to Instagram

With Krieger on the project, the duo began to re-evaluate their options with the application. The photo-sharing capabilities of Burbn were unique at that time, and they decided to hunker down on it.

They got some inspiration from a photography application called Hipstamatic, which had different exciting things like filters to apply to photos. Kevin and Mike decided to combine that kind of application with a social media platform like Facebook.

It was at that point they decided to rename the application to Instagram, combining the words ‘Instant’ and ‘Telegram.’

Soon enough, they finished work on the project and launched it on Apple’s app store on the 6th of October, 2010 to great success. The app racked up 25,000 users on its first day, hitting the major milestone of one million users less than three months later in mid-December.

The app was limited to iOS devices from that time till April 2012, when the Android application was released. In less than a day, it had been downloaded over a million times on the platform.

That same month Facebook approached Instagram with the deal to purchase the app for $1 billion in cash and stock. This deal was accepted with the provision that the company remained independently managed. And that was it.

Wrapping It up

Instagram’s success story is nothing short of inspiring. From the simple brainchild of a Stanford graduate to the multi-billion dollar company that it is now. An application that has built connections, grown personalities, and changed lives.

Sure, Meta owns Instagram, but maybe the real owners are you and me.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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