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Zuckerberg's Jealousy Held Back Instagram and Drove Off Founders


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The Facebook CEO promised Kevin Systrom independence, but a new book shows that the promise only lasted until Instagram started to look like the favorite son. From a report: By the end of 2016, just as Zuckerberg's company was facing its first controversies related to Donald Trump's election, Zuckerberg was focused on a different kind of threat. Typical Facebook users were posting fewer of their own thoughts and photos, and Zuckerberg suspected Instagram's successful copying of Snapchat Stories was to blame. (The success came as a surprise even to Zuckerberg, who unbeknownst to Systrom had again tried and failed to buy Snapchat shortly before Instagram Stories debuted.) He enlisted his most trusted data scientists to study whether Instagram was becoming a Facebook alternative and threatening its dominance. Zuckerberg thought the research showed that Instagram would start eating into Facebook's user base within six months. The word "cannibalization" started to creep into his management meetings. Systrom disagreed with Zuckerberg's assessment of the data. "This is not Instagram taking away from the Facebook pie to add to the Instagram pie," he told Zuckerberg at a weekly Monday leadership meeting. "The total pie is getting bigger." It wasn't just Instagram vs. Facebook. It was all of these Facebook properties vs. every other choice in the world, like Netflix, Snapchat, Twitter, and, you know, sleep. Others in the room sided with Systrom. They were puzzled by Zuckerberg's apparent jealousy of Instagram's success. Zuckerberg had always said Facebook should reinvent itself before a competitor got the chance and that the company should make the decisions about how to do so based on data. "If we don't create the thing that kills Facebook, someone else will," the booklet passed out at employee orientation reads. Yet Zuckerberg couldn't seem to bear the idea that Instagram might outshine Facebook. He told Systrom he believed Instagram Stories was successful not because of its design, but because they'd happened to release the feature ahead of Facebook Stories. Facebook had helped Instagram long enough, he decided. In 2018, Instagram would have to start giving back. Instagram users barely noticed Zuckerberg's first change. He ordered Systrom to build a prominent link within the Instagram app that would send his users to Facebook. Around the same time, he had his own engineers remove the prominent link to Instagram on Facebook's site. Zuckerberg's willingness to expand Instagram's team had waned, too. He balked at adding engineers to facilitate the release of IGTV, even though Instagram was on track to hit 1 billion users and $10 billion in revenue that year.

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https://tech.slashdot.org/story/20/04/07/1755229/zuckerbergs-jealousy-held-back-instagram-and-drove-off-founders?utm_source=rss1.0mainlinkanon&utm_medium=feed

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