Over the past couple of days I blitzed through Sarah Friers new book, “No Filter” — “The inside story of how Instagram transformed business, celebrity and our culture.”
I’m not going to go in-depth on the book, chapter-by-chapter; it’s very much as you’d expect, it chronicles the rise of Instagram up to, and beyond, its acquisition by Facebook. Delving into its formative years, and the group of thirteen employees behind it. Toward the end of the book Frier focuses on the growing rift and differences between Kevin (Instagram’s founder) and Zuckerberg.
The book does open with some good thought provoking statements.. the fact that Instagram “Compels us to experience life through a camera for the reward of digital validation” and that “a substantial portion of our global population is striving for digital recognition and validation, and many of them are getting it through likes, comment, followers and brand deals”.
However what follows in the book does little to come back to address these questions from the perspective of those who built Instagram and talked to Frier when she was researching this book. For instance it would have been good to understand Kevin’s opinion on the darker forces that his creation unleashed.
One thing that jumped out at me was the fact that the book helps in showing founders that they shouldn’t beat themselves up when they can’t replicate the success of unicorns, such as Instagram.
There are so many variables.
Creating a billion dollar company is as much luck, timing, right place, as it is about skill and hard work.
Looking at Instagram in the book — Kevin launched at a time when cameras where becoming packaged into mobile phones. Furthermore users understood the concept of likes and followers due to other social networks. The fact that Facebook would acquire at all costs to protect competitiveness. The list could go on…
All of these things had to line up when building and selling a billion dollar company.