What happened when Facebook bought Instagram and transformed the photo-sharing app

What happened when Facebook bought Instagram and transformed the photo-sharing app

When Facebook made an offer to buy Instagram for a record $1 billion in 2012, many thought Mark Zuckerberg was making a mistake.

But the purchase of Instagram turned out to be one of the best tech acquisitions of all time, helping to ensure Facebook’s social media dominance for years to come. He did so by quickly stamping his influence on the famously simple photo-sharing app, adding new features that helped it grow to more than a billion users.

This kind of change could be controversial, even internally. Case in point: some early employees resisted getting rid of Instagram’s old requirement that every photo in the app be square.

“It sounds so small now, but at the time, it was the sacred cow of the company,” said Instagram co-head of product Ashley Yuki.

Today, Instagram is still grappling with the challenge of keeping up with its social media competition—namely, TikTok—while trying not to lose the original quality that made the app special.

We explore the changing identity of Instagram for our third episode of the new season Land of the Giants, Vox Media Podcast Network’s award-winning narrative podcast series about the most influential tech companies of our time. This season, Recode and The Verge teamed up over seven episodes to tell the story of Facebook’s journey to becoming Meta, including interviews with current and former executives.

Listen to the third episode Land of the Giants: The Facebook/Meta Disruptionand watch the first two episodes Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotifyor wherever you get your podcasts.

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