Who Created Instagram?

If you belong to the Millennial or Gen Z generation, I’m willing to bet you’ve had an Instagram at some point in your life. Instagram is so ingrained in our lives it’s hard to remember a world before it! But do you know who created Instagram?


The people who created Instagram literally changed the world as we know it. From people adopting hashtags like #FOMO to the revolutionization of marketing, the influence of Instagram is everywhere.

Instagram’s changed ownership throughout the years, resulting in a lot of changes in Instagram itself. We’re not sure whether those changes are good or bad, but they’re definitely different.

Read on for the saga of Instagram.

The Original Creators of Instagram

Instagram was founded by ex-Googler Kevin Systrom and Brazilian software engineer Mike Krieger. The idea for Instagram reportedly came when Systrom was on a vacation to Mexico and his girlfriend refused to post pictures because their quality was too low.

The creators of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger

Systrom came up with X-Pro II filter (which is still in use on Instagram today!), and the idea was formulated. What if there was an app that let you put filters on all your photos? Systrom took the idea to Krieger.

And thus, Instagram was born. The app launched in the latter half of 2010, and within its first month was up to 1 million users!

The Instagram Creators’ Legacy

Under the creators of Instagram, the app gained widespread use almost immediately. All of a sudden, people were sharing pictures of every little thing. 

This is one of my earliest Instagram posts, from 2011. I’m not sure what I was trying to communicate. It’s certainly a change from the kind of photos you see on Instagram today.

View this post on Instagram

Louisiana silly band. Favourite.

A post shared by victoria ✨writer & traveler (@village_witch) on

Instagram filters and hashtags became a way of life, and Instagram began to grow. Krieger handled Instagram updates. The Instagram team grew to thirteen people. Jokes about hashtags and “Do it for the ‘gram” began to spread.

But in 2012, the history of the internet was changed forever. It was all anybody could talk about for a few days. Whispers spread through the streets.

For an astounding one billion dollars, Facebook bought Instagram.

Do the Creators of Instagram Still Own It?

Many were disappointed to see Instagram go into the tech-giant hands of Facebook. People anticipated bad changes to the app, a more uniform and less artistic way of expression. 

But thankfully, not much actually changed within the app. Systrom and Krieger stayed on at Instagram, with Systrom as CEO. Instagram got to keep its grassroots team, but have the power of Facebook behind it. Many of the features Instagram users know and love today were developed under them. Sounds like a sweet deal to me! 

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But even Instagram isn’t immune to big changes. On September 24th 2018, the creators of Instagram, Krieger and Systrom resigned from their roles at the company. Their reasons for doing so are unclear, but it sounds like they’re planning on developing something new.

As of 2018, the acting head of Instagram is Adam Mosseri, who previously conceived and implemented the Facebook News Feed. Hopefully he can figure out how to sort out the algorithm!

The Evolution of Instagram

There are features we think of as synonymous to Instagram. The creators of Instagram probably never realized that “Sliding into her DMs” would become a way of life, because Instagram didn’t always have that feature! You also couldn’t create your own filter, or view Instagram from a browser.  

More recent additions are more obvious – the ability to use gifs, for instance. Or Instagram stories, and the ability to use questions, gifs and polls in those stories. Those features have made Instagram even more addictive than it was before. 

Instagram has always combined the need for visual stimulation with social satisfaction, but the new additions took it to the next level.

Were They Good Changes to Instagram?

There’s always that question in the back of everyone’s mind: was it a good change? Instagram was snapped up by Facebook pretty quickly, and Facebook helped develop a culture that some people are growing tired of.

A good place to start is the way Instagram has influenced marketing. The way Instagram has changed marketing is undeniable. It gave birth to a whole brand of “influencer marketing.” Before, the only way to be an influencer was to be a traditional celebrity or get on Oprah.

Suddenly, it was possible for anyone with enough dedication and drive to build a following and start collaborating with companies. Businesses started putting more effort into their posts and decor so that people would Instagram them and get them publicity. There were whole articles written (and still are!) about “Instagram worthy food.”

An entire standard of beauty is upheld by Instagram. People have even started to get plastic surgery so that they look like themselves when they’ve got their Snapchat and Instagram filters on.

Is the growth of Instagram a bad thing? Some people have argued that Instagram has created a culture based only on how things look. People have to take breaks from Instagram to feel good about their lives again. Could the influence of Instagram actually be bad?

Old Instagram Isn’t Really Different

But all of those things could have happened whether Facebook had bought Instagram or not. Granted, they might have been slower, but they still would have been there. Old Instagram was the equivalent of showing your friends a scrapbook as you construct it in real time.

New Instagram allows you to interact, meet new people, and literally explore the world through the explore page. It might just be me, but I like that version a little better!

Perhaps the methods have changed. There’s no denying a huge part of Instagram is Instagram marketing. But for the average Joe, Instagram is still just a place to keep up with your friends. You might also follow a few of your favorite celebrities, but for the most part, you’re surrounded by people you know. 

The Dominance of Instagram Marketing

If you have a business and you don’t have an Instagram, do you really have a business at all? Instagram quickly rose to one of the top ways to advertise, particularly for small businesses. Instagram offers a way to connect with your audience on a personal level and show off eye-catching content at the same time.

In other words, Instagram achieved what traditional marketing has been trying to do for decades. The fact that many people use Instagram so readily as part of their daily lives already also has great significance. Marketers no longer need to reach out – people come to them.

That’s particularly useful for younger generations who espouse traditional marketing. If Instagram users are doing their daily scroll when they happen to see an advertorial post, it’s less threatening than a big billboard. 

What Instagram offers is a streamlined, intuitive way of marketing. And if you aren’t using it, you’re missing out on a hugely valuable market.

We Love Instagram For What It Is Today

Instagram’s journey from grassroots app to dominant culture force is pretty fascinating to watch. The creators of Instagram probably never had any idea what was coming for their photo filter app.

Whether those changes are good or bad, we won’t say (but we do lean towards good.) The fact of the matter is that Instagram is part of our lives now. And learning to use it is important for any business or influencer.

Are you ready to dive into the world of Instagram marketing, but you don’t know where to begin? Why not get matched with your own personal Instagram manger? Try Upleap for free today!

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By Victoria Hendersen

Victoria is an American expatriate currently based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Originally from Santa Cruz, California, she lived in Bordeaux, France before relocation to Russia's cultural capital. Victoria holds a BFA in Film and Media Studies from UC Irvine.

She works as a copywriter and translator. An experienced travel blogger and vlogger, her main drive in life is discovering the jewels of lesser traveled cities. You can keep up with her travels on Instagram at @village_witch.

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