Instagram has a new boss: Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s current VP of product and a former high-ranking product exec at Facebook, is taking over as “Head of Instagram” as expected.
The news, announced today, comes a week to the day after Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger unexpectedly revealed they were resigning from Facebook six years after selling their company to Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion.
Systrom and Krieger were fed up with Zuckerberg’s increased control over the company’s product and worried about integrations with its parent company, sources say. You wouldn’t be able to tell from Instagram’s blog post today, which included a photo of Systrom, Krieger and Mosseri smiling for the camera while sitting together on the couch.
“Since we announced our departure, many people have asked us what we hope for the future of Instagram,” Systrom and Krieger wrote on Instagram’s blog. “To us, the most important thing is keeping our community — all of you — front and center in all that Instagram does. We believe that Adam will hold true to these values and that Instagram will continue to thrive.”
Mosseri was Systrom’s most likely successor, not only because he has the product experience for the job but because he’s close to Zuckerberg, who seems to be tightening control on all Facebook’s standalone apps, including Instagram. Facebook increasingly relies on Instagram for growth and influence among younger internet users. Zuckerberg needs this transition to be successful, so it makes sense he’d hand the reins to a trusted deputy.
Mosseri’s a designer, as was Systrom, and studied information design at NYU. He was also a design consultant before joining Facebook’s design team back in 2008. In his decade-plus at Facebook, Mosseri has been involved in some of Facebook’s most important products.
Most notably, Mosseri ran Facebook’s News Feed for years — arguably the most important single product at Facebook — before joining Instagram as its VP of product earlier this year. Less notably, he also ran Facebook Home, the company’s unsuccessful effort to create a mobile homescreen for Android phones back in 2013.
Probably just as important as his product experience, though, is that Mosseri is very close with Zuckerberg and Facebook’s top product executive not named Zuckerberg, Chris Cox. Mosseri reported to Cox for years before switching to the Instagram team in May as part of a massive company re-org. When Mosseri went to Instagram, Cox was also promoted to oversee all Facebook apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. In his new role, Mosseri will be back working for Cox.
That familiarity matters, especially given Zuckerberg’s desire to run Instagram more like a product division within Facebook and less like an independent company. By that standard, Mosseri’s appointment makes sense. He probably won’t have the kind of product authority founders typically have, but Mosseri is a strong executor and knows how to build News Feed, the product that brings in most of Facebook’s advertising revenue. That means he’ll probably know how to build Instagram’s feed as well.
Those who’ve worked with Mosseri say he’s very thoughtful and well-liked. He’s also more visible than most Facebook execs, who tend to keep a low profile. Mosseri was one of the small handful of Facebook executives to engage regularly with reporters on Twitter over the past two years, though that has quieted down considerably over the past couple of months.
Mosseri’s big challenge now is to keep Instagram’s momentum going. Instagram is seen as an integral part of Facebook’s future. Not only does it have a billion users, including a lot of younger users who might not care about Facebook’s main blue app, but unlike the company’s other popular apps like Messenger and WhatsApp, Instagram actually makes money.
The concern if you’re Facebook or a Facebook investor is that Mosseri or Zuckerberg or some combination of the two will mess up what has been one of the best corporate acquisitions of all time. Let’s hope he has the nuanced touch to keep it the cool and elegant Instagram people love — and not just another version of Facebook’s News Feed.
Here’s an interview at Recode Media in February with Mosseri and Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown.