Instagram CEO is Explo Alum

Congratulations to five year Explo alumnus Kevin Systrom, whose mobile photo sharing company Instagram was recently bought by Facebook (in the largest acquisition to date) for a billion dollars in cash and stock. News of the deal has been covered by every major media outlet and the story has landed the front page of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and has been a lead business topic worldwide. Systrom’s company, launched in October of 2010, had about 35 million users worldwide at the time the deal was struck. Systrom, by all accounts a brilliant and incredibly likable guy, still has a “grand vision” for Instragram. The company, though now owned by Facebook, will maintain its current identity and continue to operate as a distinct application on both iphone and android platforms.

Reportedly, Systrom and Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, brokered the deal essentially on their own at Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto, CA estate. Once Instragram announced that the app was “Android ready,” Zuckerberg seemed eager to make the acquisition, and at quite a price. The purchase came on the heels of a recent round of fundraising by the photo sharing company; they were about to receive $50 Million from a range of venture capital investors who valued the company $500 Million. Within days of closing the fundraising round, Zuckerberg doubled that valuation and catapulted Instagram, along with its founders and employees, into a different stratosphere.

[About Kevin Systrom]

An Explo student in the mid-to-late 90s, Systrom grew up in Holliston, Massachusetts, about twenty miles west of Boston. He attended the independent boarding school Middlesex in Concord, Massachusetts, before heading west to Stanford, graduating, and then settling in Silicon Valley for what has been a series of very impressive career moves in a very short time. As an undergrad at Stanford, where Systrom majored in management science and engineering and was a Mayfield Fellow--a group of twelve exceptional Stanford students studying entrepreneurship--he landed an internship with Odeo, which later became Twitter. Also wooed by Facebook prior to graduating from Stanford, Systrom opted to finish school, and then fielded an offer from Microsoft, which he demurred in favor of a position at Google.

Reluctant to leave “the valley,” Systrom spent about a year at Google before making a go at his own startup. Together with a partner, he founded Burbn, which aimed to compete with the location-based mobile application Four Square. In a matter of months, Systrom changed his focus to what he felt people really were really looking for and the market really needed--a quality photography application that incorporated social media--and Instagram was born. The application gained popularity quickly, fueled by its ease of use and the ability to share photos on Twitter and Facebook.

[What is Instagram?]

Quite simply, Instagram allows you to make better photos. You can easily custom design filters and borders and then share your creations within Instagram’s own’s social network. You can also post these images to

external social websites. Despite new ownership, Instagram is expected to operate in the same way its users know and love, creating a worldwide community of beautiful, entertaining, interesting imagery.

Published April 20, 2012