Instagram's cofounder worried that Mark Zuckerberg was behaving like Trump to get him to quit, blockbuster report reveals

  • A detailed report from Wired, drawing on 65 interviews with current and former Facebook employees, chronicles a disastrous 15 months for the company.
  • The report features details on the deteriorating relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s cofounders, who left in September.
  • A source told Wired that cofounder Kevin Systrom worried aloud whether Zuckerberg was treating him the way Donald Trump treated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
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A new cover story from Wired has shed light on the deteriorating relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram, which led to cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quitting in September last year.

According to Wired, which interviewed 65 current and former Facebook employees to build a picture of the company’s disastrous 2018, there were a number of points of tension between Zuckerberg and Instagram’s bosses.

It got so bad, according to a Wired source, that at one point Systrom worried aloud whether Zuckerberg was trying to force him out by making his job unliveable, likening the relationship to US President Donald Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions resigned at Trump’s request in November.

Instagram’s success in the face of Facebook’s declining user growth was one source of friction, Wired said, with some executives believing that Instagram was cannibalising Facebook’s native app.

Read more:
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says Instagram losing autonomy under Facebook is actually a testament to its success

Along with Instagram’s success, positive press coverage of Systrom did nothing to ease tension. Zuckerberg gave the order that no executive was to have a magazine profile without first consulting himself or COO Sheryl Sandberg, a person directly involved with the decision told Wired. Some viewed this as an attempt to clip Systrom’s wings.

Sources familiar with Instagram founders Systrom and Krieger told Wired that the pair were worried that Zuckerberg was beginning to dislike them by the time the Cambridge Analytica scandal exploded in March 2018.

This was further compounded when Zuckerberg told Instagram in July that Facebook was withdrawing supports from Instagram, including running ads for it inside Facebook’s app, and providing linkbacks to Instagram when users cross-posted onto their Facebook feeds.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

You can read Wired’s full report here.

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