Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, when it had 30 million users, and treated it largely as a side project, albeit a profitable one. But Instagram grew faster than anyone had expected. It shrewdly mimicked its rival, Snapchat, introducing the widely popular video-sharing Stories feature, whose private tallying of “watches” has informed Project Daisy.
Users who may have felt their privacy was compromised on Facebook used Instagram to exchange direct messages and share personal moments. In 2018, Instagram’s net advertising revenue in the United States reached nearly $6 billion, a 70 percent increase from the previous year, according to eMarketer, a social media research company.
No longer the quirky stepchild with bunny-ear filters, Instagram has become the future of Facebook in the United States, according to industry analysts who estimate that it is Facebook’s most lucrative asset and arguably one of the best acquisitions in tech history.
“There is this role reversal in Instagram’s metamorphosis from this tiny thing on the side to being the core platform,” said Venky Ganesan, a managing director at Menlo Ventures, a venture capital firm. “The actual Facebook that we know and love — or know and no longer love — is becoming a relic of the past.”
Mr. Zuckerberg began looking at the overall picture of Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, or what he calls the “family of apps.” Facebook could seem like a jealous sibling: removing the Instagram logo from its bookmarks menu, for instance, and cutting the traffic that flowed from its platform to Instagram. Instagram users also had an option to cross-post Stories on Facebook, like sharing graham crackers.
Months before Instagram’s founders left, Jan Koum resigned from WhatsApp, the messaging app he co-founded, and from Facebook’s board, amid debates about the amount of user data Facebook had collected from its users.
Mr. Zuckerberg installed Mr. Mosseri as head of product at Instagram, a move that further convinced its founders, Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger, that the app they created was increasingly under Mr. Zuckerberg’s control. Not long after, they announced they would depart, leaving tumult in their wake. “No one ever leaves a job because everything’s awesome,” Mr. Systrom told Recode.