Kevin Systrom became a Self-made Billionaire in his 30’s! Here’s his inspiring story

The social media market continues to grow at an exponential rate, and every other day, mind-boggling new developments are announced.  In the first 10 years of the 21st century, Facebook, Twitter, Hike, and Snap Inc. all came into being.

While everyone was busy with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram—a photo and video sharing application—was establishing a league of its own. The credit for Instagram’s existence goes to Kevin Systrom. Kevin Systrom’s net worth is $2.1 billion.

Kevin Systrom is the co-founder and CEO of Instagram. He was born on December 30, 1983.  Kevin developed a love for computers during his days at Middlesex School.  The boy began creating programs for fun and usually pranked his friends by hacking their AOL Instant Messenger accounts.

Kevin, as a school-going kid, wanted to become a disc jockey and used to pester Boston Beat—an old-school, vinyl-record store—by writing them emails and expressing his willingness to work for them. After a few weeks of hustling, he was given a part-time job for a few hours each week.

Kevin applied to Stanford University to study undergrad. Stanford University was well known at the time for its close ties to Silicon Valley. He initially enrolled in the Computer Science department but later jumped to the Management Science and Engineering Program. Kevin’s inclination for subjects with more practical coursework was the reason behind this shift.

He was one of the twelve students chosen to take part in the Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford University. This paved the way for a four-month internship at Odeo Inc. in June 2005. Odeo Inc. was a platform that allowed users to easily record and share podcasts.

Kevin worked as an intern in both business and technology. He also helped make the Odeo widget. Mark Zuckerberg offered Kevin a job because of how hard he worked and how smart he was, but Kevin turned it down because he was still in college.

After completing his graduation, he went on to work with Google in 2006. He began as an Associate Product Marketing Manager and worked on Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, and many other offerings. He soon moved to the corporate development team. The desire to work in the social media space prompted him to join a startup named

He was hired as a product manager. Former Google employees founded this company. By virtue of Nextstop, he was able to devote time to coding and creating app-style programs.

While working at, he realized his future lay in entrepreneurship. A photography fanatic, he wanted to create a platform for users to share their pictures and videos. Kevin began working on the idea.

How Instagram was Started?

Kevin wanted to combine the ideas of Foursquare and Flickr. The result was a location-based photography sharing platform. He named it Burbn. To spread the idea amongst his acquaintances, he presented his work to Baseline Venture and Andreessen Horowitz in 2010. Thereafter, he decided to quit his job and solely focus on the development of his newly created prototype.

The Burbn concept was approved and appreciated by both Baseline Venture and Andreessen Horowitz; within two weeks, he received 500,000 USD for seed funding. He hired Mike Krieger as the cofounder of his company.

Mike Krieger was so impressed by the prototype that he left his own startup. Together, they successfully created Burbn using the HTML 5 check-in service. This product allowed users to make plans, post pictures, and hang out with friends.

While he was chilling out at the beach with his fiancée, Nicole, she told him that she would never use his app for its lack of filters. This conversation with Nicole inspired him to launch filters in Burbn. The app was remodeled extensively. This app was available for iPhone 4 users.

The reason was the popularity of the iPhone and its high-quality camera with Holga-inspired lenses. These features ensured high-quality pictures. The co-founders started to work on the further developments. After eight weeks, they relaunched the app as Instagram. The application was launched on October 6, 2010.

Instagram’s Audience Response:—
After the launch, Kevin tweeted about a new member on the social media circuit. Following this, there was media coverage, and two hours later, the servers crashed due to the high volume of traffic.

They worked all night to keep Instagram afloat and later improved their server system by providing adequate backup and failover mechanisms. Within the first 24 hours, about 25,000 people had signed up for Instagram. Instagram had about 7 million users within nine months.

Instagram’s Acquisition   By Facebook:—
A lot of users had stopped using Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg proposed Kevin for the unification of both apps. Much to his surprise, Kevin received offers from Jack Dorsey and Ali Rowghani. They wanted to buy Instagram for around 500 million USD. Besides this offer, Kevin was offered huge funds from Sequoia Capital.

Initially, Kevin wanted to maintain Instagram as an individual entity. But after an offer of $1 billion from Facebook, Kevin allowed Facebook to acquire Instagram. The deal was made on the condition that Instagram would function as an independent company.

Instagram had over 300 million active users per month in the following years, increasing to 400 million users in 2015.  Instagram is also well known for introducing Boomerang, an app where users can shoot a one-second burst of five photos.

Courtesy: Startup Talky

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