Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Facebook-owned Instagram, have abruptly resigned from the company with no explanation.
In a statement - not made on Facebook - Systrom said that the pair were now "ready for our next chapter".
It continued: "We're planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. 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."
The @instagram journey is one I won't forget. It started by building simple products that solved universal problems. Now eight years we look back and are proud and grateful to have been part of that journey. Thank you to the entire community as we move on for now.— Kevin S. (@kevin) September 25, 2018
But they also made it clear that they would not be returning to the company that they sold for $1 billion to Facebook in April 2012: "We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion."
Systrom was CEO of Instagram and Krieger chief technical officer. The pair had run Instagram as a separate company owned by Facebook, and largely shielded it from interference from its parent company since the acquisition.
However, rumours have been rife of rising disagreements between the pair and Facebook, particularly over the direction of Instagram.
In particular, according to Bloomberg, the pair were becoming frustrated over the increased involvement of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with Instagram becoming increasingly central to the company's plans.
2/2 I wish them all the best and I'm looking forward to seeing what they build next." https://t.co/8YFLab4iWw— Facebook (@facebook) September 25, 2018
That follows increased scrutiny of Facebook over privacy, and claims that the platform has been used to push ‘fakes news' and to manipulate voters in elections. As a result, revenue growth at Facebook is expected to tail-off following several years of high growth - rising from $12.5 billion in 2014 to $40.7 billion in 2017.
The departure of Systrom and Krieger from Facebook comes just months after Jan Koum, the founder of messaging tool WhatsApp also left Facebook - again, following rumours of disagreements with Facebook and, in particular, Zuckerberg.
Facebook had acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in February 2014 and, like Instagram, had largely left the company in the hands of its founders.
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