Kevin Systrom

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Kevin Systrom
Kevin Systrom 2018 (40980041741) (cropped).jpg
Systrom in 2018
Born (1983-12-30) December 30, 1983 (age 37)
Alma materStanford University
OccupationFormer CEO of Instagram, entrepreneur
Known forCo-founding Instagram
Board member ofWalmart (September 2014 – May 2018)[1]
Nicole Schuetz
(m. 2016)

Kevin Systrom (born December 30, 1983) is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur. He co‑founded Instagram, the world's largest photo sharing website, along with Mike Krieger.[3]

Systrom was included on the list of America's Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 2016.[4] Under Systrom as CEO, Instagram became a fast growing app, with 800 million monthly users as of September 2017.[5] He resigned as the CEO of Instagram on September 24, 2018.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Systrom was born in 1983 in Holliston, Massachusetts. He is the son of Diane, a marketing executive at Zipcar, who also worked at Monster and Swapit during the first dotcom bubble,[7] and Douglas Systrom, Vice President in Human Resources at TJX Companies.[8][9]

Systrom attended Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where he was introduced to computer programming. His interest grew from playing Doom 2 and creating his own levels as a child.[10]

He worked at Boston Beat, a vinyl record music store in Boston, while he was in high school.[11]

Systrom attended Stanford University and graduated in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in management science and engineering.[12][7] At Stanford, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He turned down a recruitment offer from Mark Zuckerberg and instead spent the winter term of his third year in Florence, where he studied photography.[13][14]

He got his first taste of the startup world when he was chosen as one of twelve students to participate in the Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford University.[15] The fellowship led to his internship at Odeo, the company that eventually gave rise to Twitter.[citation needed]



After graduating Stanford, he joined Google working on Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Spreadsheets and other products.[11] He spent two years at Google as a product marketer; Systrom left Google out of frustration of not being moved into the Associate Product Manager program.[16]


He made the prototype of what later became Burbn and pitched it to Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz at a party. He came up with the idea while on a vacation in Mexico when his girlfriend was unwilling to post her photos because they did not look good enough when taken by the iPhone 4 camera.[7][14] The solution to the problem was to use filters, effectively hiding the qualitative inferiority of the photographs.[14] Subsequently, Systrom developed the X-Pro II filter that is still in use on Instagram today.[14]

After the first meeting, he decided to quit his job in order to explore whether or not Burbn could become a company. Within 2 weeks of quitting his job, he received US$500,000 seed funding round from both Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. While in San Francisco, Systrom and Mike Krieger built Burbn, an HTML 5 check-in service, into a product that allowed users to do many things: check into locations, make plans (future check-ins), earn points for hanging out with friends, post pictures, and much more. However, recalling their studies in Mayfield Fellows Program, Krieger and Systrom identified that Burbn contained too many features and the users did not want a complicated product. They decided to focus on one specific feature, photo-sharing. The development of Burbn led to creation of Instagram. A month after launching, Instagram had grown to 1 million users. A year later, Instagram hit more than 10 million users.[17]


In 2010, Systrom co‑founded the photo-sharing and, later, video-sharing social networking service Instagram with Mike Krieger in San Francisco, California.[citation needed]

In April 2012, Instagram, along with 13 employees, was sold to Facebook for US$1 billion in cash and stock.[18] According to multiple reports, the deal netted Systrom US$400 million based on his ownership stake in the business.[19] One of the key contributions to the acquisition was that Mark Zuckerberg stated Facebook was "committed to building and growing Instagram independently", allowing Systrom to continue to lead Instagram.[20] Systrom stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the pros of becoming a part of Facebook were that "we got to pair up with a juggernaut of a company that understands how to grow, understands how to build a business, has one of the best, if not the best, management team in tech and we got to use them as our resource".[21]

In an interview with Forbes, he stated that "Instagram is a new form of communication that's an ideal fit with the always-with-you iPhone in today's social media world. Instagram's a social network built around photos, where people can quickly comment on or 'like' photos and share them on Twitter or Facebook."[22] Systrom identified Instagram as a media company, which explains the roll-out of video advertisement by big companies such as Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic and CW in late 2014.[23]

Under Systrom's leadership, Instagram developed key features like the Explore tab, filters, and video. Over time, Instagram rolled out features allowing users to upload and filter photographs and short videos, follow other users' feeds, geotag images, name location, and comment on other users' photographs and short videos. Instagram allowed the development of web profiles in 2012, connecting accounts to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr in 2013, an Explore tab in mid-2012, and Video in June 2013.[24] Instagram offered 19 photographic filters; Normal, 1977, Amaro, Branna, Earlybird, Hefe, Hudson, Inkwell, Kelvin, Lo-fi, Mayfair, Nashville, Rise, Sierra, Sutro, Toaster, Valencia, Willow, X-Pro II.[citation needed]

Systrom hired former Yahoo Vice-President James Everingham, as well as Kevin Weil, who formerly headed product development at Twitter, as high-ranking executives at Instagram.[25]

As of October 2015, 40 billion pictures had been shared on Instagram.[7]

As of June 2016, Instagram had over 500 million active users.[26]

Also in 2016, CNN quoted a study according to which Snapchat was the most important social network among teenagers aged 14 to 19, the first time in two years that Instagram did not feature at the top.[27]

Instagram as of early 2017 employed around 450 people.[25] The app was used by 600 million people per month and 300 million per day.[25] Its competitors Snapchat and Twitter employed more people for a smaller user base, with Twitter having 3,500 employees for 317 million monthly users, and Snapchat employing 1,500 people for half of Instagram's daily user base.[25]

In May 2017, Systrom planned to better integrate the use of videos into Instagram.[28] He also stated that in a few years, the company might be getting involved in Virtual Reality products.[28]

According to Quartz and the New York Times, Systrom and Krieger implemented a system to overcome bottlenecks and slow decision-making in the company by scheduling meetings in which only decisions are taken.[29][30] This approach was informed by Systrom's interest in academic business theories, in particular Clayton M. Christensen's concept of The Innovator's Dilemma.[30]

On September 24, 2018, it was announced that Systrom resigned from Instagram and would be leaving in few weeks.[31][32]

Views on copying ideas in the industry[edit]

Instagram has been accused on multiple occasions for copying various new functions from its closest competitor Snapchat.[33] Regarding the issue, Systrom argued that all new services launched by tech companies nowadays are "remixes" of existing products, and that "all of these ideas are original when you remix them and bring your own flavour".[28] Systrom also argued that 'you can trace the roots of every feature anyone has in their app, somewhere in the history of technology' and that this was simply 'just the way Silicon Valley works.'[34]

Forbes list[edit]

In 2014, Systrom was listed in the Forbes 30 "Under 30" list under the "Social/Mobile category."[35]

In 2016, the magazine ranked Systrom as a billionaire with an estimated net worth of US$1.1 billion.[36] The fortune came about as a result of Facebook stocks rising more than 500%.[36]

Personal life[edit]

According to The Guardian, Systrom enjoys "fine food, golf, skiing and holidays at California's Lake Tahoe".[37]

In February 2016, Systrom met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where they discussed the power of images in uniting people "across borders, cultures and generations".[38]

On October 31, 2016, Systrom married Nicole Systrom (née Schuetz), founder and CEO of clean-energy investment firm Sutro Energy Group, in Napa, California. The two met at Stanford and were engaged in 2014.[39]


  1. ^ "Walmart Releases 2018 Annual Report, Proxy Statement, Global Responsibility Report and Global Ethics and Compliance Program Update". Walmart. April 20, 2018. Archived from the original on June 27, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "Kevin Systrom Net Worth". Forbes. March 19, 2019.
  3. ^ " Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. ^ "Kevin Systrom". Forbes. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  5. ^ "Kevin Systrom". Forbes. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Newton, Casey (October 15, 2018). "Ledger bucholz on quitting Instagram: 'No one ever leaves a job because everything's awesome'". The Verge. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Kiss, Jemima (October 2, 2015). "Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom: 'We're working on time travel'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Holliston native strikes it rich with smartphone app Instagram – Framingham, MA. The MetroWest Daily News (April 12, 2012). Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  9. ^ "Elizabeth V. Pels, 85". Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  10. ^ Rogers, Kate (July 31, 2015). "Searching for Zuckerbergs: Inside a start-up summer camp". CNBC. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "How Kevin Systrom of Instagram got his start". Fortune. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  12. ^ "Executive Profile". Bloomberg Businessweek. April 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Dodds, Laurence (April 18, 2020). "The inside story of how Facebook went from idealism to scandal". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d "Instagram's Kevin Systrom: 'I'm dangerous enough to code and sociable enough to sell our company'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger: From Stanford to Startup [Entire Talk] | Stanford eCorner". Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Eagle, Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan. "How Google Works: hacked". Books Content Development. Retrieved September 28, 2018 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "Instagram Press". Instagram. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  18. ^ Primack, Dan (April 9, 2012). "Breaking: Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion". Fortune. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Isaac, Marc (April 9, 2012). "Facebook Buys Instagram". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  20. ^ Segall, Laurie. "Kevin Systrom Build Instagram into a Media Company". CNN. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Studio 1.0: Kevin Systrom Opens Up About Instagram's Life at Facebook". Bloomberg News. October 24, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  22. ^ Geron, Tomio (December 19, 2011). "Kevin Systrom Builds Instagram into a Media Company Press". Forbes. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  23. ^ "Instagram's Video Ads Are Finally Live, and Here Are 4 From Major Brands". Adweek. Adweek. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  24. ^ Madrigal, Alexis (June 20, 2013). "#TeamVine: Instagram Has Video Now, but Not a Video-Making Culture". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c d "Inside Instagram's reinvention". Recode. January 23, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  26. ^ E, D (June 21, 2016). "Instagram users top 500 million". BBC. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  27. ^ King, Hope (April 13, 2016). "Teens say Snapchat is 'most important social network'". CNN Money. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  28. ^ a b c Burgess, Matt. "Where Instagram goes next: Kevin Systrom on copying rivals, VR and cutting off dead weight". Wired. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  29. ^ Staley, Oliver. "To avoid paralysis, Instagram's founders hold meetings where they only make decisions". Quartz. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  30. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad (April 26, 2017). "Why Instagram Is Becoming Facebook's Next Facebook". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  31. ^ Isaac, Mike (September 24, 2018). "Instagram's Co-Founders to Step Down From Company". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  32. ^ Lyons, Kate (September 25, 2018). "Instagram co-founders resign to explore 'creativity again'". The Guardian. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  33. ^ "Instagram Copies Snapchat Once Again With Face Filters". Fortune. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  34. ^ "Did Instagram copy Snapchat? Not exactly, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says". Recode. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  35. ^ "30 Under 30 Who are Changing the World". Forbes. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  36. ^ a b Vinton, Kate. "Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom Joins Billionaire Ranks As Facebook Stock Soars". Forbes. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  37. ^ Jemima Kiss (October 2, 2015). "Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom: 'We're working on time travel'". The Guardian. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  38. ^ "Instagram's CEO Meets Pope Francis to Discuss Power of Images". Time. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  39. ^ Nast, Condé. "Instagram Cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom and Nicole Schuetz's Masquerade Ball Wedding in Napa". Vogue. Retrieved August 19, 2020.

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