Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are leaving the company they created. Late Monday, the pair abruptly announced that they were stepping down as the chief executive and chief technical officer of the social network. Facebook, which found out about their decision yesterday, were blindsided by the announcement, sources familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News.
In a statement, Systrom wrote, “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again … We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion.”
Systrom and Krieger founded Instagram in 2010 and sold it to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. As of this summer, Instagram had 1 billion monthly active users.
This isn’t the only recent exit of a high-profile founder of a company acquired by Facebook. Recently, the founders of WhatsApp, bought by Facebook in 2014, both left the company after reportedly clashing with Facebook executives over privacy issues.
It’s unclear what Systrom and Krieger plan to do next, or exactly why they decided to leave at this moment. It’s also unclear what the future of Instagram will be without its cofounders in place inside Facebook.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement, "Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I'm looking forward to seeing what they build next."
Here is Systrom’s statement in full:
Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. 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.
We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.
Added statement by Mark Zuckerberg.