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Burriss on Media: Instagram

Dr. Larry Burriss

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  How many of you remember the myriad of stories you heard as children about the self-made millionaire? Or the stories of Horatio Alger, or later, Tom Swift? Today these morality tales generate a lot of “ho-hums” and eye-ball rolling. But here’s one that got my attention, and prompted me to do a little more research to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a free phone app called “Instagram.”

 Instagram allows users to manipulate and share pictures they take with their smart phones. By applying various color and shape filters, users can create a wide-range of images that can then be posted and retrieved.

But here’s what caught my eye: the company that created Instagram was recently bought by Facebook for 1-billion dollars. That’s “billion,” with a “B.” But lots of tech companies are worth a billion dollars. So what’s the big deal?

Well, Instagram has been around since late 20-10, about a year and a half, and it’s worth a billion dollars. By way of comparison, The New York Times has been around for 116 years, and is worth 900-million and change.

When Instagram was introduced, some 25-thousand people downloaded it the first day. In three months there were a million users. In a year there were 10-million. Today there are about 30-million users who have uploaded more than 200-million photographs.

Ok, those are staggering numbers. But here’s what really struck me: last year the company had 4 employees. Today it has 13. That’s right: this company has 13 employees, each of which will share in that 1-billion dollars. The 2 co-founders will take about half of that, and the other 11 will split 100-million dollars, or about 9-million dollars each. And the 2 co-founders, by the way, are only 26 years old.

Lots of billion dollar tech companies were started by only one or two people. And every time I read about 1 of them my eyes get sort of misty as I sigh and say to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

I’m Larry Burriss.