The tech world was stunned last week when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the wildly popular, Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, Instagram, abruptly announced they were leaving the company.
The platform’s billion users were, meanwhile, left to wonder and worry—what will happen to the beloved app?
Instagram COO Marne Levine, speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday, assured her audience that the business was in safe hands. (As it happens, Levine is also leaving her role at Instagram. Earlier this summer, she accepted a job to run global partnerships and business development for Facebook and she is currently transitioning into the role.)
While calling the departure of the co-founders “so sad” and a “big loss for us all,” Levine, who considers the founders mentors and close friends, as well as “product visionaries,” waved off a question about reported clashes between the founders and Facebook and promised the photo app’s future was sound.
“Kevin and Mike are just so thoughtful,” she said, suggesting that the Instagram founders had considered the app’s future in deciding to leave. “It would only be that they would look out across the entire thing and say, ‘What is the state of the product, what is the state of the business? Do we have the right leaders in place? Does this make sense to think about what the next chapter is?’”
She added that, while the moment was unexpected, it was “only natural” that the founders, “whose vision… had fundamentally changed the way we connect and share,” would be thinking about what’s next after spending six years steering Instagram at Facebook. She pointed out that when the social media giant acquired Instagram, the photo-sharing platform had just 13 employees and “no business.” Today, it has more than a billion users and “a thriving and growing business” with more than two million active advertisers and more than 1,000 employees worldwide. “It’s is in a very different place,” she said.
She added that Systrom and Krieger had “established a model for successful acquisition and integration” at Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and other leaders, she said, “really value Instagram and its unique value and really understand and appreciate what it’s all about.”
Of Instagram’s new leader, Facebook veteran Adam Mosseri, she also had good things to say. “Adam is going to be great…he has deep product experience, deep design experience…he shares Kevin’s sensibilities around simplicity and craft. He really gets it.”