Monday, April 16, 2012


This Sunday (April 8), a small company changed its fortunes forever. Instagram was started two years ago, but this Sunday, it became more valuable than even The New York Times. The reason being Facebook acquired it for $1 billion few days back; causing quite a flutter among industry watchers. Why did it invest so much in a company, which hardly made any profits, is a fresh start up, and to top it all, is just an ‘app developer’ and its claim to fame is a ‘photo-sharing’ application that it developed for the iPhone? Add to this the fact that it does not even have a website to call its own, for all its features are designed for the mobile phone.

Well, there is more to it than these obvious facts. Instagram may just be an application for the mobile phone, but it has been downloaded by 50 million users, and that is something worth noticing. Though still much smaller than Facebook, the power of this company lay in its idea. Instagram is about photo sharing, but so is Facebook. However, Instagram is only mobile phone-based and Facebook’s revenues through its mobile application are zilch. Mark Zuckerberg saw this as a huge opportunity to make Facebook’s presence stronger in the mobile sector. When Zuckerberg started, it was all about the web. Today, who cares about the web? It all happens on the mobile phone, and Mark knows it best. So for a company that was valued at $500 million a few weeks back, Zuckerberg did not hesitate to double his offer and as expected, the young founders of Instagram – Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom – found it irresistible and sold it. A simple idea of sharing your sometimes grainy mobile photos and making them works of art by using an application is today worth $1 billion. That’s what a good idea can do, and that’s exactly what it did for Instagram; a 551-day-old profitless tech startup!
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