Home Base: San Francisco
Year Founded: 2009
Power Stat: 150 million photos have been posted as of August of last year.
Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom weren't the first people to create photo filters, allowing users to turn otherwise low-fi iPhone snaps into (minor) works of art. They were, however, the ones who added that oh-so-key element of sharing that has turned their 2-year-old creation into a juggernaut. "We are both passionate about social products," Systrom says of himself and his cofounder, both of whom have been into photography since the days when you had to own an actual camera. "Honestly, I don't think we knew how popular Instagram was going to be. The day we launched, we had 25,000 users sign up. Today we have a user signing up every second." But why do Taylor Swift and even President Obama need another platform? "To get the word out in a very different way" Systrom says—and because a picture is definitely worth more than 140 characters.
How they chose their (very small) team: "Mike looks for raw curiosity. Like, when you get home from your day job, do you turn on American Idol or do you tune in to the Discovery Channel and learn something new? I love people who show an entrepreneurial spirit on their own—people who have started side projects and who can't wait to make things happen." —Systrom
Found art on President Barack Obama's Instagram account.
How they feel about landing the president: "We're not a political group of folks. But regardless of your views on politics, to have the leader of the free world sign up for your app is, you know, humbling." —Systrom