Instagram’s Founders Are Unexpectedly Leaving ‘To Explore Our Curiosity’

2 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are leaving the company, they said in a surprise announcement late Monday.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again,” Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, said in a statement. “We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion.”

Systrom, 34, and Krieger, 32, have not given a reason for the timing of their departures. But Bloomberg reported that they were leaving after “growing tensions” over Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increasing involvement in the day-to-day running of Instagram.

Instagram had previously been seen as largely autonomous from Facebook’s influence. The app recently introduced features aimed to compete with rival Snapchat, a rising threat to both Instagram and Facebook that has since been quieted.

Facebook bought the photo-sharing app for $1 billion in 2012. Back then, it was used by around 30 million people. Under Facebook’s umbrella, it has grown to reach over a billion people, making it one of the social media giant’s most successful acquisitions. Analysts say Instagram is one of Facebook’s most important businesses, and one which generates the least controversy.

Instagram is the third Facebook-owned business whose founders have left recently. Jan Koum, who helped start WhatsApp in 2009, resigned in April over disagreements about privacy and encryption. Virtual reality firm Oculus VR lost founder Palmer Luckey in March 2017 amid a series of scandals and lawsuits.

Facebook has faced numerous stumbling blocks in the last two years, including scandals over its privacy practices and failure to prevent the spread of false information during the 2016 election, as well as slowing growth.

Facebook shares were down 2% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Ciara Nugent at