Twitter is still actively searching for their next CEO. And with all due respect to Snoop Dogg, there is a better candidate for Twitter’s open top tier position. It’s Kevin Systrom, founder and current CEO of Instagram.
While the whole world is aflutter about Twitter, it’s Instagram that’s rocking the KPIs with more current installs (Android) and better engagement. Just by installs alone, it’s clear that Instagram is pretty much killing it, while Twitter is…being killed. This is probably part of the reason that despite being a top social app, Twitter hasn’t made the top 10 apps list (in terms of usage patterns) in the US, UK, or India in the past few months. Instagram, on the other hand, is always in the top 10.
Now take a look at desktop traffic to both sites. On desktop Instagram has half the traffic of Twitter. Not too shabby, considering that you can’t even upload pictures yet.
These data insights make an excellent case for why Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom should be CEO of Twitter.
1. He Knows How to Get S**** Done (The GSD Factor)
When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched their Instagram photo sharing service in October 2010, it took them just hours to get 10,000 users. They spent their first few weeks keeping the service up and running as the app’s growth snowballed.
By the time Facebook acquired the startup for $1 billion 18 months later, the startup had over 50 million users. (We don’t know which figure is more impressive – 50 million users after 18 months or the $1 billion acquisition.
A little more than 2½ years after the acquisition, Instagram’s user base surged 600% to include more than 300 million users.
Systrom proved his GSD skills. He and Krieger worked on the app after they raised $500,000 in seed financing and called it Burbn. The initial prototype had too many features, however, and they pared it down to focus only on photo-sharing.
2. Systrom has Street Cred with Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorse
When Systrom was a college student at Stanford, he did a tech and business internship at Odeo, the company that would spawn Twitter. That’s where he met Jack Dorsey, an Odeo employee who became one of Twitter’s co-founders. The two sat next to one another during Systrom’s internship.
Dorsey gave Systrom and Krieger kudos for their focus on simplicity and delighting users. “I was blown away by how much detail they put into the experience,” Dorsey told Kara Swisher.
Dorsey believed in Instagram so much that he himself participated in the startup’s Series A funding round.
3. Twitter Tried to Buy Instagram before Facebook
In 2012 Twitter reportedly made a verbal offer to pay $525 million for Instagram, with Dorsey and Twitter’s then-CFO making the verbal offer to Systrom. Mark Zuckerberg then convinced Systrom and Krieger to join Facebook instead.
4. Systrom “Gets” Mobile
Systrom and his team enabled sharing of Instagram across mobile and desktop platforms. He understands the smartphone space, something that remains critical to Twitter’s continued success.
In 2011, Systrom showed special insight into what mobile app users prioritize today. He wanted Instagram “to not just be a photo-sharing app, but to be the way you share your life when you’re on the go.” That vision fits perfectly with Twitter.
Here’s a look at the growth of Instagram’s monthly active users (MAUs):
Now check out Twitter’s MAU growth, which shows that the real increase has been in the number of global users.
5. Systrom Knows Visual Media, which is Instagram’s Sweet Spot
Although it was originally a 140-character micro-blogging service, Twitter’s real growth opportunities lie in the platform’s ability to distribute images for both users and advertisers.
Whether they are still images, short-form videos, or live-streaming via Periscope, Twitter’s platform will grow even more quickly by focusing on what Om Malik calls “a very visual Web,” which is Instagram’s (and certainly co-founder Systrom’s) sweet spot.
Instagram’s Android app metrics show that the app’s user engagement is stronger than Twitter’s. Its visual pull shouldn’t be a surprise.
Case in point: Mobile users spend at least 33% more sessions on Instagram than they do on Twitter.
Android users also spend more average time per session on Instagram than on Twitter. In 2015 the average time per mobile session rose on Instagram, but stayed relatively flat on Twitter.
6. Today’s Top Mobile Apps Involve Images, and Systrom Does Images
It’s clear that today’s top mobile apps are heavily focused on sharing and viewing images. That includes Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
Apple’s ranking of mobile apps in the AppStore confirms this, as displayed on our platform:
So does SimilarWeb’s app index for Android, which measures the volume and scope of app usage across the U.S.
7. Systrom Not Only Co-Founded Instagram, He Took it to the Next Level
Kevin Systrom has remained Instagram’s CEO since Facebook acquired it more than three years ago. By leading this massive venture, he’s done much more than spearhead the growth of Instagram’s 300 million user base.
This June, the company announced that it was giving brands the opportunity to place sponsored ads targeting users according to their interests. There should be no doubt that this will now generate serious revenue for the Facebook business unit.
It will also be a source for real time visual news updates, and enable U.S. users to explore popular places quickly and easily.
8. Systrom Would Help Twitter Really Take Flight, Too
Twitter should waste no time bringing Systrom on as the company’s new CEO.
He’s earned Silicon Valley’s respect, collaborated as a team player, and never forgotten that Instagram was visually focused and a pleasant experience for users.
Snoop Dogg says he’s focused on getting Twitter moolah. Systrom, however, would one-up the artist and businessman by nailing the platform’s user experience and growing a brand using stronger images even more than before. In fact, he might be the only person in Silicon Valley with the exact skills and perfect work experience for the job.