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Origin of Instagram

Social media applications have broadened the reasons and ways of interaction between many of us in developed and developing countries. Some of the applications have billions of active users every month, including business owners, influencers, TV celebrities, and other individuals. Instagram, initially named Burbn, climbed its way up to have a current market value of $100 billion. Pretty good for a company that was founded less than 15 years ago. So how did Instagram end up being such a successful company despite having only one feature initially?

How it All Started

How did a former Google and Nextstop employee found one of the 21st century’s fastest, most successful tech startups? Kevin Systrom, who many regard as the original founder of Instagram, began creating this app due to his love of alcohol and experience working at some very notable tech companies in his early days.

Leaving Google in 2009 for Nextstop, Kevin worked as a product manager and taught himself how to code. He later used this skill to build Instagram’s ‘check in’ and integrated games features. And from this knowledge and connections in the tech start up space, Instagram (named Burbn at the time) was born. Kevin’s love for alcohol was profound, and it showed in his product name.

Getting a lot of attention towards his prototype, Systrom decided to leave his job at Nextstop and joined Michel Krieger to work on his dream of turning Burbn into a real startup. They knew each other from their days at Stanford University and later both went to co-found Instagram together. Systrom and Krieger improvised the initial prototype of Burbn and developed a product that allowed users to post photos, check-ins, and interact with other users. Users could also earn points by hanging out with friends. The idea of having these features bothered them both which led to their decision to include fewer features and keep the app minimal. After eight weeks of coding and compiling, they developed an app and named it Instagram. Users could post photos applying filters with an integrated social media feature of ‘like’ and ‘comment’. According to Systrom and Krieger, the development required eight weeks of work, however the actual timeline behind it was almost a year. The app was initially released for the iOS platform.


The popularity of Instagram was notable from the moment it was launched. In just one month, Instagram gained 1 million users which grew to 10 million in the following 12 months. Instagram thrived and quickly became the number one photo-sharing app in the market. Later in 2012, the android version of the app was released in the Play Store and was downloaded, a record, 1 million times in a single day.

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