One of our account folks, Kari Ramirez, penned the guest post last year “Who’s the Hero.”
Today, she offers a take on how the Facebook purchase of Instagram generated a spike of homogenous storytelling … with one exception.
By Kari Ramirez
The Hoffman Agency
Facebook set off a flurry of media stories last week with the announcement of its purchase of the popular photo-sharing company Instagram for $1 billion in cash.
Yes, $1 billion for a 13-person company.
Since then, I’ve waded through the deluge of articles in the tech blogosphere, struggling to find a fresh perspective that would make sense of this expensive decision.
Most opinions – not surprisingly – expressed shock at the hefty price tag (especially since Instagram was recently valued at only $500 million). A few rare posts called it an obvious match made by the social media gods.
Some longtime users of the photo-sharing phenomenon threatened to delete the app because of Facebook’s privacy issues.
Others argued that fear motivated the decision, noting that Zuckerberg/Facebook, “knew for the first time in its life it arguably had a competitor that could not only eat its lunch, but also destroy its future prospects.”
Entertaining views, but not necessarily useful for me.
Then I saw Cliff Kuang’s in-depth article for Fast Company. He offered readers a fresh take on the news that countered the prevailing opinion and analysis.
Cliff’s dissection and storytelling were intriguing. He provided insights into the design and product development that went into the Instagram app, allowing the company to produce a fun and intuitive app that appeals to the masses (33 million+ users).
Additionally, he offered up a unique viewpoint that many journalists missed: Facebook wants to continue creating a well-designed product and this acquisition arms Facebook users to become curators of their own content.
Cliff summed up the article nicely:
Users don’t give a crap if a service is going to make decent margins in the future. But they do care if a product is fun to use. And that is what ultimately makes a company great: It has to make great things. […] Facebook doesn’t have a monetization problem. They’re making money with unbelievable speed. But they might have a product problem, and they’re dealing with that by trying to make design a part of their DNA. Still, we don’t know if they’ll be able to draw the best out of their own remarkable talent roster. Can Instagram help inspire them to do better?
Perhaps Cliff is on to something here …
Does Facebook need to build up its army of hot engineers so it can continue to innovate and build a superior ecosystem?
Just take a look at the new slick version of Google+.
While I realize it hasn’t taken off and isn’t as popular as Facebook, its engineers definitely deserve a pat on the back for the new look and feel they’ve created. After all, the new version integrates circles, hangouts, pictures, videos, etc.
Not to mention they created this in less than a year.
All this innovation talk reminds me of a quote from the recent biography of Steve Jobs:
The mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind.
Do you think Facebook realized they needed additional technology to stay ahead of the curve?
Regardless of how the answer plays out, Kuang’s perspective offers a fresh frame for Facebook’s innovative strategy.