Instagram is a free photo sharing program launched in October 2010 that allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it on a variety of social networking services, including Instagram’s own. A distinctive feature confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.
Instagram was initially supported on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch; in April 2012, the company added support for Android camera phonesrunning 2.2 (Froyo) or higher. It is distributed via the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
On April 12, 2012, Facebook acquired the company (and its 13 employees) for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock, with plans to keep it independently managed.
Instagram development began in San Francisco, when Kevin Systrom and Michel “Mike” Krieger chose to focus their multi-featured HTML5 check-in project Burbn on mobile photography.
On March 5, 2010, Systrom closed a $500,000 seed funding round from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on Burbn.
The product launched in Apple’s App Store on October 6, 2010. Shortly after the launch, Josh Riedel joined the company as Community Manager. Shayne Sweeney joined in November 2010 as an engineer and Jessica Zollman was hired as a Community Evangelist in August 2011.
In January 2011, Instagram added hashtags to help users discover both photos and each other. In September, version 2.0 went live in the App Store (iOS). It included new and live filters, instant tilt shift, high resolution photos, optional borders, one click rotation and an updated icon.
On February 2, 2011, it was announced that Instagram raised $7 million in Series A funding from a variety of investors, including Benchmark Capital, Jack Dorsey, Chris Sacca (through Capital fund), and Adam D’Angelo. The deal valued Instagram at around $25 million.
On April 3, 2012, Instagram for Android was released. That same week, Instagram raised $50 million from venture capitalists for a share of the company that valued it at $500 million. On April 12, Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock. The deal, which was made just before Facebook was scheduled to go public, cost Facebook about a quarter of the cash-on-hand they had as of the end of 2011; the deal was for a company characterized as having “lots of buzz but no business model”, and the price was contrasted with the $35 million Yahoo! paid for Flickr in 2005, a website which has since become among the 50 most popular in the world. Mark Zuckerberg noted that Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, in contrast to its common practice of, as CNNMoney.com put it, buying “hot startups, kill[ing] their products, and redeploy[ing] their staff on other projects”. According to multiple reports, the deal netted Instagram CEO Systrom $400 million based on his ownership stake in the business.
A fake version of the app, classified by Sophos products as Andr/Boxer-F, is available for download from several unofficial Russian websites. The malware sends messages to premium numbers, causing huge bills to be run up. The fake app also includes multiple copies of the Russian photo meme “Witness from Fryazino”