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One of the most successful entrepreneurs of his generation, Kevin Systrom is the co-founder and CEO of Instagram. He and his founding partner, Mike Krieger made headlines in 2012 when they sold the immensely popular photo-sharing app to Facebook for $1billion. Systrom has maintained Instagram’s independence from its parent company and continues to lead engagement levels in comparison to its rivals, an accomplishment its founder attributes to the uniquely positive, safe, and clean atmosphere the app’s codes have been designed to promote.
Systrom drew from 10 years of life and work experience to build Instagram. A Stanford graduate, he had studied photography in Italy on an exchange program, which exposed him to different techniques he could use to enhance the colors in his photos. After his trip, the idea lay dormant for years, until his time at Google when he started thinking about starting a company based on photo sharing and HTML5. Though Systrom had worked at corporate development at Google, he had learned to code in his spare time. He also learned more about programming and building a website at Nextstop, the startup he was working for when he started to create Burbn, the first iteration of Instagram.
Systrom raised $500,000 from VCs and hired a team, the first of which was Mike Krieger. The two stripped Burbn down to its simplest form and changed the name to Instagram, combining the concepts of an instant camera and a telegram. Once it was launched in 2010, the platform gained 100,000 users in one week, and then jumped to 1 million in one month.
Systrom remains dedicated to maintaining his company’s competitive edge and feel-good sense of community. He is steering the company to expand video sharing and looking for future opportunities to incorporate VR into the platform. Systrom is also a vocal advocate for creating a more positive, cleaner, and safer Internet.
Kevin Systrom is an American entrepreneur and software engineer best known as the co‑founder and CEO of Instagram.
Systrom graduated in 2006 from Stanford University with a B.S. in management science and engineering. At Stanford, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He co-founded Instagram in 2010 with Mike Krieger. He also founded Burbn, an HTML5-based location-sharing service.
He got his first taste of the startup world when he was an intern at Odeo, the company that eventually gave rise to Twitter. He spent two years at Google; during the first, he worked on Gmail, Google Reader, and other products, and during the second he worked on the Corporate Development team.
After leaving Google, he co‑founded the photo-sharing service Instagram. In April 2012, Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock. According to multiple reports, the deal netted Systrom $400 million based on his ownership stake in the business.
Instagram cofounder, Kevin Systrom discusses how Instragram came about from a coalescence of multiple experiences he'd had during college and his early career. He emphasizes that there is no such thing as "the perfect move." In fact, when he was on a tour of a marine base, he was struck by his tour guide's explantion of how marines decide their next move, or the "Bias Toward Action" principle: if a marine spends too much time contemplating his/her options, their hesitance may cost them their life.
"Sometimes you have to make a tradeoff," Systrom explains. "What is the action I can take with the appropriate amount of information and risk to move, because moving and progress is what gets us to the next step."
Don't discount experiences that are seemingly unimportant at the time they happen, he tells aspiring entrepreneurs, noting how his idea from Instagram cumulated from his study of photography, his early start ups which did not take off, and jobs he held with other companies.
"That summation of your experience over the last ten years is what makes you into the thing tomorrow that will be successful," he notes.
"Every little experience you have you may not give credit to, but it turns out is super important for you know, being foundational in your startup going forward."
From identifying a problem worthy of solving to choosing your start-up’s name, Instagram Cofounder and CEO, Kevin Systrom is an open book about what to do and what not to do as an entrepreneur or established business leader. A down-to-earth speaker who connects to audiences quickly and with ease, he shares his firsthand experiences navigating Silicon Valley and building relationships with talented people he could learn from – one of the necessary ingredients, he says, for “making great things happen.”
Systrom is also an excellent person to shed light on the latest in mobile app development, code, and how to address ethical issues surrounding social media.
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