Instagram Co-Founders to Leave Facebook

Instagram’s co-founders are leaving the popular photo-sharing app, raising questions about the future direction of what has been a growth engine for parent company Facebook.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said Monday evening in a corporate blog post that he and chief technology officer, Mike Krieger, would step down from the social networking giant and are “planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”

Systrom did not say when he and Krieger would leave, but The New York Times reported earlier on Monday that it would be in the coming weeks. The executives notified Facebook’s management of their plans to leave on Monday, the Times report said, citing unidentified sources.

“We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion,” Systrom wrote. “We’re now ready for our next chapter.”

Systrom did not say why he and Krieger are stepping down from Facebook, which is facing one of the most turbulent times in its history. In recent years, the company has had to deal with problems like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its failure to prevent Russian entities from spreading propaganda on its service during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

“Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Krieger wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the executives in a statement, but he did not elaborate about the departure or who would replace them.

“Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents,” Zuckerberg said. “I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

Technology analysts generally consider Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, as one of Facebook’s most important services, especially in light of the parent company’s recent scandals. While Facebook’s user growth appears to be slowing down, Instagram’s growth is booming, with analysts from Bloomberg Intelligence recently estimating the service to be worth over $100 billion if it were an independent company.

In April, Jan Koum, the founder and CEO of Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp announced that he would step down. Koum did not say why, but the Washington Post reported that it was due to disagreements with Facebook executives over data privacy and encryption policies that they wanted to enforce on the messaging app.