Instagram’s Founder On Why A Small Team Isn’t Always A Good Thing

Your business is wildly successful and needs more employees. Why not hire some? Not so fast, according to Instagram founder Mike Krieger.

When Instagram was aquired by Facebook in 2012, the popular photo sharing app had only a handful of employees.


Looking back on that decision, founder Mike Krieger says he might have done things a little differently.

“[Having a small team] lead to a lot of focus, and lead to a really cohesive product,” says Krieger. “The flip side was that we were all putting in really, really, crazy hours and basically having no life outside of work for a couple years.”

Mike Krieger

So why didn’t he hire more people? Well, he says, because there’s no formula to success–and no easy hire.

“It’s not like you can say ‘I need engineers’ and just turn on this faucet,” says Krieger. “There’s a whole plumbing system underneath–recruiters, pipelines, and getting people on board.”

“If you’re not building out from day one, once you actually do need those engineers you’re going to turn on the faucet and nothing is going to come out.”

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Video vet who has worked in cable news at CNBC, network news at NBC's Today show and ABC's 20/20, and then made my way into digital video at The Daily iPad app (RIP) – before landing at Fast Company digital.