The one thing you never hear in Silicon Valley is an entrepreneur admit they copied someone else. Yet there in the headquarters of Facebook, the world’s most prolific product cloner, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom surprised me.
He’d just walked me through the demo of Instagram Stories, a pixel for pixel photocopy of Snapchat Stories. The products look so similar I couldn’t help but chuckle as he progressed through the slidedeck about a feature he said would probably look familiar.
For 30 minutes, the elephant lingered there in Systrom’s plush office alongside Instagram’s PR chief and I. We sat around a table made from a print of the first photo every posted on the app. Six years later, Systrom revealed how for the last six days, he’d posted nothing to Instagram.
Despite the glamorous life of a CEO who’d sold his startup for nearly a billion dollars, his day-to-day wasn’t interesting enough to share to Instagram’s feed. It was a permanent place where you “only get to see the highlights”, where teens often delete photos if they don’t get enough Likes in the first few minutes. The app was losing shoot-from-the-hip lifecasting to Snapchat.
So Instagram made Stories.
Still, everyone in attendance knew there was no avoiding the Snapchat question so I just put it bluntly. “Let’s talk about the big thing. Snapchat pioneered a lot of this format. Whole parts of the concept, the implementation, down to the details…”
Read more: Techcrunch