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HSC Reads - How I Built This

In the HSC office, we’re always trying to stay updated on all the newest updates and what is happening. One thing that caught our eye was the podcast “How I Built This” hosted by Guy Raz from NPR. This podcast features companies like AirBnB, Vice, Clif Bar, Dermalogica, and our favorite Instagram. Our widely used app at HSC that we know so little of the history, so right when we realized they featured the story of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, founders of Instagram, we knew we had to take a listen.

Systrom was a Stanford graduate who in his free time worked on developing apps. One in particulae was called Burbn, which focused on location. Photos were included in the app, but the main focus was where they were taken to know where your friends were at that time. Krieger was an early Burbn user which led to the two meeting. Burbn eventually didn’t take off and the two decided to start from scratch. They settled on the name “Instagram” from the portmanteau of “instant” and “telegram.” Clever, right?

Today Instagram has about 700 million registered users and more than 400 million people use the platform every day. The app is recognized throughout the world and today is one of the top fundamental apps of pop culture; however, Instagram wasn’t a huge blowup when it first started. Krieger and Systrom struggled to keep the app alive and not crash. Even with under 100 users the app had its difficulties in the early stages, but they kept seeing people come back to the app. The server was crashing every other hour. Very few people were even able to sign up when it launched due to the crash.

In the early stages, Instagram didn’t even have filters until Systrom’s wife suggested they should add filters to the app. The concept behind the app was “to make people feel like their photos are worth sharing.” Everything was experimental for the two, but they were willing to take a chance.

Clearly, they were successful and ended up eventually selling to Facebook for $1 billion. If you want to hear more about their story, check out the podcast from NPR.

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