Instagram’s Systrom: Video Is Hard But Cinemagram Is Interesting; Also, Focus On Big Problems

Startups like Viddy and Socialcam are angling to be the Instagram of video — that is, to figure out some simple way of creating, editing and sharing mobile videos, in a way that resonates with users like the photo-sharing service has.

But it’s hard, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom said on stage at Le Web London today, because of the medium. Videos take minutes to load. “Users want a faster experience, they want to produce quickly. [With Instagram] you can take a photo and make it beautiful in seconds.”

After some prodding from host Loic Le Meur, he conceded that there are some “really interesting things going on” in video. But he didn’t cite the startups I mentioned. Instead, he talked about Cinemagram, a mobile app that lets you animate photos, GIF-style. Maybe some new feature like that are coming for the startup that Facebook bought? He said last year that video-ish updates could be coming.

(By the way, about that sale price. I’ve recently heard that the company sold for meaningfully more than the $1 billion that we and others previously heard, albeit for a mix of cash and stock. So, the amount will change along with Facebook’s day-to-day stock price.)

Systrom, whose social filtered-photo app now has “more than 50 million users,” also had some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Too many people are focused on the late nights, the fun things, all the meta stuff that doesn’t matter. It’s a means to an end. Instead, they should focus on big problems.”

The talk didn’t directly address how Instagram itself solves a big problem — in fact, a common pundit gripe is that it shouldn’t be worth $1 billion because it doesn’t. But Systrom, Le Meur, and chef-celebrity Jamie Oliver talked about what Instagram does do, which is make humans around the world more connected and aware of each other.

[Photo by Jamillah Knowles.]