Mark Zuckerberg is a hard person to work for, but Kevin Systrom did a very good job of managing up after selling his startup Instagram to Facebook Inc. (FB) in 2012, Sarah Frier said in discussing her new book “No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram” on the Drinks With The Deal podcast.
While the founders of Oculus VR LLC and WhatsApp Inc. clashed with Zuckerberg soon after Facebook bought their companies, Systrom avoided confrontation in an effort to protect his company.
He also found allies within Facebook, perhaps none more important than Charles Porch, a close friend of Zuckerberg’s sister Randi who managed Facebook’s relationships with celebrities, an area that Randi had hoped to develop before leaving the company in 2011. After moving over to Instagram in 2014, he helped introduce both Systrom and Instagram to elite entertainers and tastemakers, whom the company was assiduous in cultivating.
Porch “saw the possibility” in the app, Frier said. “He would get the A-listers to use Instagram and he would turn the Instagrammers into A-Listers.”
Systrom succeeded in part because of a clean, minimalist approach to design reminiscent of Steve Jobs’ style at Apple Inc. (AAPL), Frier said, and one that will be a key part of whatever Systrom does next after leaving Facebook two years ago. He “is so unpredictable,” she said. “Whatever he does, he will focus on making it very simple. He’s probably going to do it with his co-founder Mike Krieger and do it in a way that makes a very complicated thing simple.”