Kevin Systrom, the chief executive officer, and Mike Krieger, chief technical officer, will step down from Instagram in the next few weeks – six years after it was bought by Facebook.
In a statement, the duo said they would step down to “explore our curiosity again”.
They said: “Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over 1,000 with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.
“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do. We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion.
We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.”
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said: “Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”
Systrom and Krieger founded Instagram in 2010 and it was bought by Facebook in 2012, for $1bn (£629m at the time).
When Facebook bought it up, Instagram was ad-free and had a following of 31 million people. It now has one billion users.
Their departures will be problematic for Facebook and follow closely behind the resignation of WhatsApp’s chief executive officer Jan Koum, who quit over adverts on the messaging platform.
Instagram has largely escaped Facebook’s high-profile problems with privacy, foreign election interference and fake news and has been able to maintain a younger user base than its parent company.
Socialbakers’ CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak commented on what impact this might have on the future of the platform, given their rising ad share – but how ultimately, it simply marks a transition from founder to acquirer.
“The departure of Instagram’s founders is just a continuation of a trend that we see all across tech, when founders move on to new projects and leave their baby to thrive in the hands of the acquirer,” Ben-Itzhak said. “This in itself doesn’t yield any great need for concern. Since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 the platform has gone from strength to strength.
“Socialbakers’ ad spend data shows that businesses are leveraging Instagram for advertising more than ever before. The share of Instagram ads placements is clearly on the rise, reaching 43% in March 2018. We certainly don’t see the platform’s growth slowing any time soon. With over a billion users, Instagram’s future is certainly bright.”