[Article first published as Facebook Buys Instagram for $1 Billion, More Users Re-live Grade School on Blogcritics.]
What a week in social media! Just last week we took a look at Instagram, who had just recently released an app for the Android platform, waking up the sleeping iPhone fanboys and fangirls in the twitterverse to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Venom was spit, the flames had somewhat subsided, and we all kind of thought that that was that. Well kids, we were all wrong. I mean just as far from correct as humanly possible.
On the heels of the Android release of Instagram, we were treated to another news bomb this morning brought to us by Kara Swisher at All Things D. You see, not one to be left out when anything happens in the world of social media, Facebook today announced that they would be acquiring Instagram and adding it to their suite of online offerings. So how much does a mobile photo app that doesn't charge for downloads go for these days? $1.1 billion. That's right, I said one billion. Enough money to last you almost 3 years if you spent $1,000 a day, every day. Instagram actually went through a round of venture capital funding for $50 million, bringing their valuation to $500 million just last week. As for other $500 million Facebook added on top? The only reasoning I can come up with is the pure value Facebook believes the photo sharing service will add to their portfolio, as Instagram doesn't have advertisments, and charges their customers nothing for use. 13 employees, zero revenue, and an astronomical valuation through a CEO-to-CEO deal.
In today's press release, Facebook stated - "We've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests." And that makes sense really. What's more interesting is that Facebook won't be completely integrating it into their existing UI - they'll be actively working on building the Instagram brand and working with their team (yep, all 13 of them) to develop the service and corresponding apps independently.
Talk about an impressive story. You look at any startup shilling for shekels from venture capitalists and you have to imagine that a common unspoken exit strategy in their business plans has to be "We want to be bought by _____" (Enter Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. as applicable). And while I downloaded the app just for test purposes, I really think that there's definitely some value and potential there.
But what about user reactions? As mentioned before, the iPhone community exploded at the release of Instagram for Android. So how do they feel about their coveted little club being exposed further? The sentiment again seems to primarily expressed through the twitterverse, with users sharing methods for exporting their photos off of Instagram's services to outright deleting their Facebook accounts rather than dealing with the heartache and watching their frail little lives crumble. TechCrunch has a good compilation of some of these tweets, which illustrate a portrait of a community that is no doubt dominated by whiny children.
My message to the iPhone blind irate is this: You spoiled little jackasses. Are you kidding me? Does this mean this much to you? You should be sending the Instagram folks in San Francisco a heartfelt thank you note for giving the free program, free community sites, running servers on their own dime without so much as forcing you to look at a single advertisement or going for monetization. Heaven forbid that they make some money and try to improve their game. What a wonderful bunch of never-content ingrates. In addition to making me question the sanity of the masses even more than usual, reading these tweets makes me hope someone makes an Instagram for grammar, adding a filter to your tweets telling you which version of "know / no" to use. I won't name the user who posted that she would "know doubt have to delete" her app for her own good.
The TechCrunch article mentions some big names making an exodus from Facebook as well, like Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin. But she's quitting because she has legitimate concerns with Facebook security and their constant gaffes, not because she feels the country club's being invaded. Totally fair. As I always say, I have no issues with people making these decisions with logic and reasoning. It's the blind rage quits that makes me cringe.
This has been a fortnight of overreaction from the hipster mavens of social media, and you know what? Their tantrums are almost as entertaining as they are infuriating.
But that's ok. I still sleep fine.