Four Years of Instagram: How It’s Grown Since 2010

Monday marked Instagram’s 4th birthday. On October 6th, 2010, the company was launched by co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger as an “easy way for people to capture and share the world’s moments,” according to the blog post commemorating its anniversary. So, how exactly has the company grown in these four years? We thought we’d take a look back at some of the biggest milestones from 2010 to today. Join us for a stroll down Insta-memory lane:


  • Closed a $500,000 seed funding round with Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Officially launched in October by Systrom, Krieger and a small team of employees.


  • In January, Instagram added hashtags to help users discover and share their photographs.
  • More funding – Instagram raised $7 million in their Series A funding round from investors including Benchmark Capital, Jack Dorsey, Capital Fund, and Adam D’Angelo.
  • Instagram’s community grew quickly, reaching one million users in its first active year.


  • Instagram was released for Android phones, leading to more than one million downloads in less than a day.
  • Yet another high funding round, raising $50 million to put the value of the company at $500 million.
  • In April, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock, with Zuckerberg committing to grow Instagram independently as its own entity.


  • Instagram announced advertising in the US in the form of Sponsored Posts, starting with a test run including a small handful of brands.
  • Two new features were released – Instagram Direct, which allows users to send private messages to one another the same way they’d post to the platform, and Video on Instagram, which allows users to post 15-second videos in addition to still photos.
  • Instagram reached 150 million monthly active users – a HUGE jump from the 1 million users only two years before.


  • In addition to introducing advertising in the UK, ads on the app have been rolled out more widely in the US, appearing from more brands than the initial tests.
  • James Quarles was announced as the Global Head of Business and Brand Development. In the newly created position, Quarles will be tasked with further developing advertising on Instagram and to “develop new ‘monetization products’”.
  • Introduced their first separate app, Hyperlapse from Instagram, which is used to capture ‘high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion.

While Instagram’s first several years were focused more on user growth than advertising dollars, Instagram has quickly become a very viable and desired option for digital marketers. With more brands (Taco Bell and Chobani, most recently) garnering success from Instagram’s Sponsored Posts, and the recent international rollout of ads in the UK, look for Instagram to further cement its role within the advertising landscape. As the app continues to evolve and Quarles takes the lead on new ad products, we are excited to see what comes next.

What has your experience been with ads on Instagram? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter, where you’ll get updates on the latest in Instagram advertising and other industry buzz.