We’re excited to announce something very big: Instagram + Facebook bit.ly/Hslpv2
— Instagram (@instagram) April 9, 2012
Original article on Mashable writen by
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No doubt you’ll hear or read this phrase a hundred times Monday: Instagram is over. Facebook bought it and now it’s going to ruin it, right? It’ll never be the service we knew and loved again.
Not so fast, Instagrammers. Before you all rush over toinstaport.me or any one of a dozen other apps that will let you download your photos from the service, consider this: the $1 billion Facebook purchase might actually be the best thing that’s ever happened to Instagram.
I’m not just talking about the nine Instagram employees who suddenly became very wealthy at this morning’s surprise all-hands meeting in South Park, San Francisco. I’m talking about the service itself.
If you use Instagram, you know that its evolution has been maddeningly slow. If you use Instagram for Android, you probably still bear the scars of the long months you had to wait for the version of the app on your device while iPhone owners sneered. Maybe they even took artsy shots of your glum faces, and laughed about it in the comments.
If Instagram had had an assist from thousands of eager Facebook engineers, do you really think the Android version would have taken that long? Not to mention the iPad version of Instagram, which still hasn’t arrived. Granted, Facebook doesn’t have the best track record in timely iPad apps either, but I’m betting they’ve learned some lessons there.
Granted, sometimes acquisitions go badly. But everything we know about Mark Zuckerberg suggests he is too smart to pay $1 billion for an app with 30 million users only to shut it down or run it into the ground. Instagram was no threat to Facebook; rather, it was a boon that was lovingly integrated into Timeline. I don’t know about you, but I set all my Instagram pics to automatically post to Facebook anyway.
With a nine-person team, chances are you don’t really integrate it much. It’s much more likely that Facebook will leave it running as a skunkworks operation. What would you do if you were Zuckerberg? Easy: you’d giveInstagram founder Kevin Systrom whatever budget and engineering talent he wants to make this killer app even more killer.
Instagram: Another YouTube
If you’re looking for a model of how this acquisition might go, consider YouTube — which was bought byGoogle for $1.65 billion in October 2006. Many people predicted that would be the end of the popular video service. (I should know — I was one of them. Mea culpa.)
Back then, it wasn’t so common for tech companies to get bought and then left alone to do their own thing. We were still in the era of AOL-Time Warner and HP-Compaq, messy mergers with lots of blood on the floor.
But YouTube was different — it was tiny. And Google was different — it was smart.
The search giant effectively took a Hippocratic oath with the video service: first, do no harm. There was no heavy-handed Google branding on the service. Google ads took years to creep onto YouTube. Indeed, the first result of the acquisition was that Google effectively shut down its own rival, Google Video.
YouTube was left to do its own thing, only this time with access to piles of Google cash. (Remember, YouTube was losing money hand over fist.) To this day, it remains a separate company in many ways. The headquarters are in San Bruno, Calif., far from the Googleplex. Employees — of which there are hundreds more — are YouTubers first and Googlers second. There may be a lot of back and forth, and a lot more money, but YouTube territory is inviolate.
So Google is too smart to dominate small thriving companies, and I’m willing to bet Facebook is the same. I just took a tour of the Facebook campus Friday, and the one thing that stood out is the lack of Facebook branding.
You’d expect to see walls decked out in Facebook blue, or everyone showing their corporate pride with “I Like This” buttons and T-shirts. Instead, the largest branding on the entire campus is a single word in the main quad, visible from satellite: “Hack.”
The DIY hacker culture is as strong here as it is at Instagram. Yes, maybe the tiny photo-sharing company will decide to port itself down to Facebook HQ — after all, the team currently works in a single conference room in a cramped building that served as Twitter’s first headquarters.
But if the Instagrammers do move to Menlo Park, I’m willing to bet it’ll be their choice. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world who is luckier than Systrom right now. Not only did he win a pot of gold in one of the all-time great corporate exits, he still gets to build the company up without a care in the world — and with a new boss who understands exactly what he’s trying to do.
Do you think there’s a downside to Facebook’s purchase of Instagram? Let me know in the comments.