Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network is focused on supporting Instagram’s growth, following the close of a roughly $750 million deal to buy the photo-sharing app. Instagram is the most unusual acquisition in Facebook’s history, considering the huge sticker price, the startup’s small team, and a pledge to stay hands-off with the service. Most of Facebook’s other deals have been talent-oriented where they bring on a small team of engineers, shut down the core product, and re-shuffle people onto other company products.
“Our mission with Instagram is we want to help them grow to hundreds of millions of users,” Zuckerberg said on-stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. “We have no agenda with making them go onto our infrastructure.” He added that Instagram just crossed 100 million registered users.
He said they’ll basically treat Instagram like an Open Graph partner (which means they should be like a big third-party developer that has priority access to features).
He also went into the history of the deal, which is often compared to Google’s acquisition of YouTube when the upstart video search engine was heavily competing with Google’s own attempts at the market. A more cynical take on the Instagram deal is that Facebook bought the app out of fear of its rapid growth and prowess in one area that Facebook has historically been weak — mobile. Photo-sharing was also a key piece — if not the key reason — why Facebook broke out from a number of social networking competitors five years ago. With a similar dynamic taking place on mobile platforms, Facebook was wise to duck in and take out a budding rival.
The history of how this thing came together is really interesting, especially the way that I got to know [Instagram CEO] Kevin [Systrom]. They started off building on top of our platform. They had just a great Open Graph integration that made it so you could take pictures and share them to Facebook. It was really first class.
They did a really good job with that. One of the things I like to do with all of our big developers is I like to get to know them personally. This is because I’m personally just interested in entrepreneurship. But I also want to get to know the people who are building on top of our platform.
Over the course of our discussions, we build a roadmap of all the things we could do together. They were starting to get a lot of distribution from our platform and there was this question: how much did they want to depend on one platform’s distribution? That was a big question for them. Then there was this question of how we could help them grow. But we had this question of how the value would accrue to us.
Eventually, I just brought up the idea to Kevin. ‘Hey, maybe we can just join and become one company.’ And that’s the game plan. We’re going to execute on features we decided on earlier.”
Check out our full coverage of Mark Zuckerberg’s chat at Disrupt SF below.