Sometimes you only know half the story and you believe the wrong thing someone said. Most of us believe it was Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team that was responsible for the social media giant’s insane popularity and victory against photo-sharing app Snapchat.
Instagram CEO responsible for Snapchat’s downfall against Facebook
Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, had an important role earlier last year for Instagram’s increasing user base. Mr. Systrom was trying to change the photo-sharing service that he had co-founded with Mike Krieger around six years ago. The photo-sharing was – later in 2012 – bought by the social media giant. The photo-sharing app’s CEO was forming a team after keeping all the executive ranks of the photo-sharing app intentionally small.
The main reason why the Instagram CEO did this was to get users to post more content – both videos and images – on the photo-sharing app. The photo-sharing app was growing fast at that time, especially among the youthful social networking platform users, because of its funny disappearing videos and photo filters. Mr. Systrom had begun poaching the big names of the industry by then, including Yahoo’s James Everingham as head of engineering in late 2015 and Ian Spalter from YouTube as head of design the same year.
Systrom probably realized then that he had the tools for getting people to use Instagram and he just needed some people to get the features designed and built onto the social media platform. He asked his friend, venture capitalist Elizabeth Weil, to assist him in implementing his product roadmap. Weil was married to Kevin Weil who had quit the Ph.D. program of the university in theoretical physics in 2009 to begin working at Twitter. Mr. Weil had now worked his way up to executive vice president. Mr. Weil supervised all the products of the micro-blogging site, which included advertising products, consumer-facing site, the Vine and Periscope video tools.
Kevin Weil and Systrom devised the plan to overthrow Snapchat
In an interview that Weil gave to Stanford professor Tina Seelig in May, Mr. Systrom offered Kevin Weil a job running product for the photo-sharing app. Kevin Weil told that he had turned the Instagram CEO down at that time. However, later he reconsidered and said in the video, “I said ‘no,’ then said to myself: Why should I turn this down?”
Krishna Subramanian, CEO of Captiv8, said that Weil was a great hire…a key player.” Mr. Subramanium, who has co-founded several companies before (including BlueLithium and Mobclix), added, “He’s been a critical part of their success.” The site started to roll out several new tools and features to match what the rival photo-sharing app was doing within a few months of Weil’s arrival.