How Instagram Started (+Cool Insta Facts)

Instagram was started as a bourbon and whiskey check-in app. (Image:  Wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
Instagram was started as a bourbon and whiskey check-in app. (Image: Wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Considered by some as the most engaged social media platform in the world, Instagram has more than 1 billion users, half of them using Instagram Stories every day. If tweets are mostly male-dominated and pins are female, Instagram is the more evenly distributed member of the fraternity.

The two nerds from Stanford

Bourbon and whiskey were the original reason why Instagram was created. In 2009, Kevin Systrom, then 27 years of age, coded Burbn, an app to help people check-in to places where there was Bourbon, and then share the photos. Burbn was a side hobby for Kevin until he met venture capitalists at a silicon valley party.

Kevin quit his job and decided to focus more on Burbn. According to Pitchbook: “Instagram raised $500,000 of seed funding from Baseline Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and undisclosed investors on March 5, 2010, putting post-money valuation at $2.6 million.”

The startup team

With seed funding in place, Kevin assembled a team. The first was a Brazilian, Mike Krieger, who knew Kevin from his days at Stanford.

Although there are other features on the app like check-in and messaging, photo-sharing turned out to be the most popular. They decided to focus on this single feature, “communication with images,” and develop it further. All other features were taken out except for photo uploading, liking, and commenting.

Instagram is run by a relatively small team. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Instagram is run by a relatively small team. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

That’s when they came up with the name, Instagram — a combination of instant camera and telegram. The team worked tirelessly to improve on photo-sharing features, and after a beta test, fixed bugs. Then, they launched on October 6, 2010.

On the very first day, they got 25,000 users. This was not expected. The growth continued, and by mid-December, they had 1 million users. The app just took 8 weeks to build, according to Kevin.

By 2011, Instagram was valued at US$25 million. This was when they added more staff. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, tried to purchase the company with an offer of US$525 million, but Kevin saw more value. In 2012, Instagram had around 25 million users, and the following month, Facebook would offer a billion dollars.

Kevin accepted this offer from Mark Zuckerburg, with an assurance that Instagram would be a distinct company that would be allowed to follow its own path without much interference from the parent organization.

Fun facts

  • The first photo was by Kevin Systrom, and it was of a dog.
  • Almost 10 percent of all accounts on Instagram are fake.
  • The most Instagrammed food is pizza, followed by the hamburger; then comes sushi.
  • The photograph of an egg is the most-liked Instagram post with almost 54 million likes. It was a parody post, simply made to beat the then-top post of Kylie Jenner’s baby.
  • Instagram is the second-most downloaded free app on the App Store.
  • You cannot view “like count” and “video views” in Italy, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland.
  • Almost 30 minutes a day will be spent on Instagram by users in 2020.
  • Fourteen percent of adults in the U.S. use Instagram as a news source.
  • If you’re an Instagram influencer, you can get paid between US$100 (for 500-5000 followers) and US$2,085 (for more than 500,000 followers) per post.
  • Instagram is now worth more than US$100 billion.
Kevin Systrom is reportedly worth $1.7 billion in 2020. (Image: Christopher Michel via Wikimedia CC BY 2.0 )

Kevin Systrom is reportedly worth $1.7 billion in 2020. (Image: Christopher Michel via Wikimedia CC BY 2.0 )

Here are the top 10 Instagram celebs:

  1. Instagram (353m followers)
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo (223m followers)
  3. Ariana Grande (190m followers)
  4. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (186m followers)
  5. Kylie Jenner (180m followers)
  6. Selena Gomez (179m followers)
  7. Kim Kardashian (174m followers)
  8. Lionel Messi (154m followers)
  9. Beyoncé (148m followers)
  10. Neymar (139m followers)

Here are the top 10 Instagram posts:

  1. The Egg
  2. XXXTentacion’s last post
  3. Kylie Jenner and Stormi
  4. F.R.I.E.N.D.S
  5. Planting trees for likes
  6. Lebron James says farewell to Kobe Bryant
  7. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson ties the knot
  8. Selena Gomez hanging with her friends
  9. Selena Gomez goes to Italy
  10. Bubble bath time with the Jenners

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