Instagram's co-founders are leaving Facebook

Instagram founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom attend the 16th annual Webby Awards in New York May 21 2012

Some saw this departure as a potential opening for Snapchat, given that the company's app has always been considered a major Instagram competitor; Facebook has even stolen more than a few of Snapchat's most popular features.

"We're planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again", Systrom wrote in a blog post.

The co-founders of Instagram are stepping away from the company in a move that's seen as the latest in a series of difficulties for parent company Facebook. Spokespeople for Facebook and Instagram declined to comment further on why the executives had chose to step down, both CNN and The New York Times reported.

J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth commented on the sudden departure saying: "We believe their departure comes as a surprise given Instagram's success and its growing importance within Facebook". But in the six years they've continued at Instagram post-acquisition, they have built a money-making giant.

Instagram founders Mike Krieger (L) and Kevin Systrom attend the 16th annual Webby Awards in New York May, 21 2012. Facebook users also have been flocking to Instagram as an escape, exhausted of the political bickering and privacy scandals that plague the parent company.

The co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, have submitted their resignations to Facebook chief execute Mark Zuckerberg. In April this year WhatsApp founder Jan Koum resigned, citing concerns over Facebook's handling of user data.

One of the names being touted as the next boss of Instagram is Adam Mosseri.

The two were inspired to create the Instagram app - originally launched just for iPhones in 2010 - by old Polaroid pictures.

Instagram this summer topped 1 billion monthly active users and has 25 million businesses that maintain accounts on the service.

Koum had signalled years earlier that he would take a stand against Facebook if the company's push to increase profits demanded radical changes in the way WhatsApp operates. Kevin wanted to keep the sharing on Instagram but at some point Mark wanted content production on Instagram to flow to Facebook.

Instagram attracts a younger cohort of users who are critical to Facebook's growth.

Facebook stock was nearly 2% lower in pre-market trading.

Instagram, meanwhile, has remained a bright spot for the company. It is less crowded than the main Facebook app, and perceived to be a kinder social network.

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