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MUST LISTEN: my 2010 Instagram interview with Kevin Systrom

Go back and listen to this. It was done when Instagram was only three weeks old. Back when Instagram only had a few hundred thousand users.

Listen to Kevin's plans. It's amazing to listen now that we know how it all ended up (with a sale for a billion to Facebook).

This 13-minute interview is extremely interesting, given that it was way back in November of 2010.

By the way, I did a separate interview, two weeks earlier, about why Instagram had won my love. That's at

Note how people, even back then, couldn't get Instagram and why it was important.

Haters are NECESSARY for new innovations!

It's amazing to be able to go back to 2010 and hear these. Do you agree?
Srini Kumar's profile photoBrian Hogg's profile photoKelvin Truong's profile photoPablo Harry's profile photo
Good share. Who would've thought... Based on his description of their aims for the future, I would've thought Twitter would have been a better home for them.
Kay Bo
who cares about an opinion somebody had 2 years ago, as he just started. HE SOLD HIS SHIT FOR A BILLON Dollars! No matter the fact the USD is getting less worth day by day. Hands up who would have done the same!
Understand the deal from both perspectives...just want to be able to see SOMEBODY create an app that is this slick and doesn't HAVE to be monetized. I realize that it's just part of business...but ultimately, I fear I will end up leaving them all...not a fan of generating revenue for a company vs. Just enjoying the product...that goes for all of them...G+ included...
+Robert Scoble Lightbox is a great competitor. It's coming for iOS soon and it beats Instagram in terms of features and design. IG has the social graph right now but that could change in the future.

BTW, I think if I was the IG team I would've sold to FB too. They remain "independent" and get 1 billion in cash and shares. That's too good of an offer.
nice interview...some gr8 tips for new entrepreneurs...
Sharing-wise and feature-wise, Streamzoo is not bad. They don't have nearly the amount of users of course but frankly that app is more feature rich for Android at least, includes a very nice tilt-shift option and not forced to crop every image 1:1. I decided to try it out today and like it very much.
It is still a crap app no matter what the social graph.
Some things are just too good to be true. Facebook is devouring anything good and decent on the web. There's hardly a corner of the web that hasn't been touched by Facebook's reach. If they gobble up my Path, I think I'll consider boycotting the internet altogether. I guess the Borg were right all along.
Like I said its a crap photo app and they did a crappy port from iOS to Android. Doesn't say much for their development skills if it took them over a year to turn out such a buggy piece of crap.
if g+ +Google would've bought instagram...well...this thread would be different.
I've only had instagram for a couple of days (I don't have an iphone)...but I've been using streamzoo for awhile. I like instagram, but still feel streamzoo is a better product. I was surprised today, but I will continue to use both.
Instagram is the proof that features don't matter.
+Robert Scoble amen!

Geeks are used to measuring things on the scale of technological innovation, and forget to count in packaging, product cohesion, and social.

Instagram shows that if you get enough of these right, it doesn't matter if it takes 50 lines of code to reproduce your features.
I'd still be wondering why if it were Google. I've read all day about this acquisition, trying to understand what tiny features were different and worth a billion dollars. While I agree with Robert's assertion that it is of some value, that much for... the same users that are already uploading more photos to Facebook? They couldn't implement "stuff" tagging for improved ads on their own? I'm more inclined to call this a simple "purchase the competition."
+Robert Scoble I totally get the importance of having a big userbase such as the one IG has (I'm one of its users and I like the service). I just think it's also realistic to think that a new competitor could rise up in the future. I'm not saying IG will go away. I'm talking about a competitor.
You weren't the only one predicting Instagrams success.
In January 2011 I said: "At least one of the mobile photo-sharing social network apps will see major adoption. It will not be" -

I think I nailed that one. I didn't know it was going to be Instagram but I knew the category would be huge and there would be at least one big winner. Path has since pivoted to more than just photos with Path 2.0.
If only Instagram hadn't released an Android version... maybe then Facebook would not have acquired them. :-( Damned Android users
The best photo sharing app I ever used was only around for a couple of weeks and then disappeared. I still miss it to this day. PhotoVine was ahead of its time and infinitely better than all other comers. I think the social graph would have been there, too...
+Robert Scoble I'd be interested in seeing a post on why you think Instagram and others startups have haters especially within the tech community.
Doubt and dismissal of good products is commonplace in the tech community. Why is that?
+Robert Scoble I agree. I think we should keep an eye out on Lightbox. If they play it right they could eventually get many users although I think they will form there own niche market instead of competing directly with Instagram which right now is much more mainstream (although not super mainstream as Twitter or FB since many people still don't understand what IG and think it's just a photo filter app).

I advise you to visit the Lightbox team and give us your opinion. My amateur opinion after using their app for a few months now, seeing how many of my friends got into it after seeing my pics in FB and Twitter and seeing how active the dev team is with the community is that they could get many users when they release in iOS. Let's see if they play it right. Of all the potential competitors I think they show the most promise.
Not keen on a photography app whose best feature is a social graph. 99% of the content is average at best.
Social graphs are created by user self-organization. It is not intrinsically valuable or defensible. There is little barrier to competition precisely because of the self-organizing nature of social features. Instagram is a perfect example of this with its vast and rich social community developed in less than two years. It’s hard not to think this kind of business is far more susceptible to fads, trending and herd behavior than most.
Nicely done +Bryan Belt .

This acquisition shows that people don't buy apps and technology, they buy users and graph. Simple as that. Just about anyone can create a decent photo app, it's the engine that matters. Simplicity is KING and they got it right. A lesson to learn people.
anyone can create an app the trick is creating an app people like and knowing how to market it.
This deal does not sit well with me. $1B for a photo sharing app is just wrong as both a deal and a message for the future. Too many ways to share pictures and extremely difficult to monetize. Why encourage VCs and startups to build more things like this? Solve real problems.
I read the entire comments thread and I think no one mentioned a potential important factor for the acquisition: speculation. Given that FB is approaching its IPO, you can add to all the reasons mentioned on the analyses the fact that this acquisition is a powerful signal to people that are going to price, and buy, Facebook shares based on signals like these.
Listening to this the key words I heard was "building a social community" so it's no wonder Facebook bought it.
Six employee company (ok may be couple more) bought for $1 billion. And what does it do? Photo sharing iPhone app (ok has some server side social graph content) built in 2 years. Money is losing value fast in silicon valley.

Was it so difficult to build another six developer iOS app for super "whiz kid" Mark who already has far bigger social graph with him already and where mostly what happens is photo sharing these days? Something is seriously wrong here. Thanks Mark for being such a brilliant example of what one can make happen in this world. Someone is pouring money and everyone is having lots of fun.

Mark says Instagram will stay independent - obviously because I do not see how other 3000+ Facebook employees can accept these half a dozen kids as very highly valued humans (~$100 million or so each) who developed a super useful app that makes zero dollars per month.
Couldn't agree more +Robert Scoble and how interesting are all the varied comments. I switched over from Android to iPhone late last year, joined Instagram out of curiosity more than anything else, only to find myself a few months later completely in love with the "experience" of ease of sharing and interacting with a wonderful community there. Even some very non-geek non-tech family members have joined. For me, it's the UTILITY and COMMUNITY that win. Robert when you talk about the "social graph" I think this scares people (ie evil corporation sells my personal data for profit) - well hey users, it's a free service, get over it. I just think of it as community. It's a great community, and I can share so easily and reach even family members who are only on email. I am a heavy user of Twitter, so love cross-posting there, same for Facebook. Same for Foursquare. The email option lets me share selective photos with family and friends who are not on other networks. I LOVE the location element to Instagram - you can click a place and see other users and their photos shared there. I love the way hashtags work like Twitter. It's all so simple. I know I sound like a fanboy and its true, I am. For good reason. This little free app has improved my life immeasurably: health-wise, work-wise, creative-wise and more. It even inspired this blog post on our +Saasu blog: I am so happy for +Kevin Systrom and team.
You probably should have given him a check right after the interview like he suggests... that check would have been wacky money today. Ouch !!!
It's interesting how everyone keeps treating these posts as those they're dialogues.
Is the interview still available somewhere elese? The link has been decommisioned.
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