No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier
Featured on The Thread: Instagram allowed for truth to be crafted, despite 'No Filter' options
In 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger released a photo-sharing app called Instagram, with one simple but irresistible feature: it would make anything you captured through your phone look more beautiful. The cofounders started to cultivate a community of photographers and artisans around the app, but it quickly went mainstream. In less than two years, it caught Facebook’s attention: Mark Zuckerberg bought the company for a historic $1 billion when Instagram was just 13 employees.
That might have been the end of a classic success story. But the cofounders stayed on, trying to maintain Instagram’s beauty, brand, and cachet, considering their app a separate company within the social networking giant. They urged their employees to make changes only when necessary, resisting Facebook’s grow-at-all-costs philosophy in favor of a strategy that highlighted creativity and celebrity. Just as Instagram was about to reach 1 billion users, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg—once supportive of the founders’ autonomy—began to feel threatened by Instagram’s success.
At its heart, No Filter is a human story, as Sarah Frier uncovers how the company’s decisions have fundamentally changed how we interact with the world around us. Frier draws on unprecedented exclusive access—from the founders of Instagram, as well as employees, executives, and competitors; Anna Wintour of Vogue; Kris Jenner of the Kardashian-Jenner empire; and a plethora of influencers, from fashionistas with millions of followers to owners of famous dogs worldwide—to show how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we shop, eat, travel, and communicate, all while fighting to preserve the values which contributed to the company’s success. No Filter examines how Instagram’s dominance acts as lens into our society today, highlighting our fraught relationship with technology, our desire for perfection, and the battle within tech for its most valuable commodity: our attention.