Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are stepping down from their respective roles as CEO and CTO at the image- and video-sharing giant, which is owned by Facebook.
Systrom confirmed the move in a blog post Monday evening, following an earlier report by the New York Times about the duo’s departure.
In the post, Systrom said he and Krieger plan to take time off “to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”
Systrom and Krieger, fellow Stanford alums, founded Instagram in 2010. Facebook acquired Instagram two years later for $US1 billion — and it has since grown to a community of more than 1 billion monthly users.
“Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team,” Systrom wrote.
“We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.
“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.”
The pair’s departure raises uncertainty over the future of Instagram, which has been able to sustain a dramatic growth trajectory while largely avoiding headaches that have befallen its parent company.
Facebook has been the target of US government investigations into how its platform has been used to manipulate the 2016 election and the misappropriation of user data by consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
“When Instagram joined us, the team had only 16 people,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the company’s Q2 earnings call July 25.
“We believe Instagram has been able to use Facebook’s infrastructure to grow more than twice as quickly as it would have on its own. A big congratulations to the Instagram team – and to all the teams across our company that have contributed to this success.”
Instagram has become a key contributor to Facebook’s growth and profits, and is growing at a faster rate than Facebook.
Instagram has 25 million business profiles and 2 million advertisers, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told investors on the July earnings call.
Systrom has credited Facebook’s ownership with fuelling the growth of Instagram and helping it quickly launch new features, like live-streaming video.
Instagram became a preferred platform for celebrities and influencers because it has focused on fostering a safe and upbeat environment, Systrom told Variety in an interview last year.
“People say Instagram is super positive and optimistic. In fact, we have a ton of negative stuff, but we’re going after it before we have a problem,” he said.