Facebook kremlinology: Instagram founders' exodus signals immanent facebookization

Facebook's acquisition spree — including huge-dollar payouts for Instagram and Whatsapp — was supposed to shore up the company's crumbling user base by creating a "family" of semi-independent companies with diverse approaches to business, sharing a back-end of engineering, marketing and other resources, but offering very different propositions to users.

But the departure of the Whatsapp founders earlier this year touched off speculation that their independence had been crushed by the Facebook mothership — these suspicions were largely vindicated by the Whatsapp founders' participation in #deletefacebook campaigns and open criticism of Facebook's surveillant approach to business.

This week, the founders of Instagram also quit Facebook, and insider whispers have it that they, too, left because Facebook had compromised their independence.

Techcrunch's Jon Russell says that it's all a sign that Facebook senior management have not been able to live up to their promise of independence for their acquisitions, and that the facebookization of Instagram — surveillance, toxic "engagement" tactics, and general creepiness — can't be far behind.

Over at Instagram, a similar situation seems to have happened with Systrom and Krieger. As TechCrunch's Josh Constine reports, sources suggested that the leadership's "weakening independence" from Facebook was a source of frustration for them that ultimately led to their untimely exit.

Reading the short farewell note from Systrom seems to hammer that home. There's no thank you for Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg or any other Facebook executive. Systrom instead stated that Krieger and he are keen to explore their "curiosity and creativity again" by building new products.

Facebook's plan to let companies it buys live independently is over [Jon Russell/Techcrunch]

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(Image: Alessio Jacona, CC-BY-SA)