How Instagram Went From Idea to $1 Billion in Less Than Two Years Here's a quick history of the meteoric rise of the popular file-sharing app, which is being acquired by Facebook despite its absence of revenue.

By Jason Fell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Meteoric Rise of Instagram

The entrepreneurial dream of selling a startup for megabucks came true for the founders of photo-sharing app Instagram when Facebook agreed to buy the company for $1 billion in cash and stock. It's a remarkable outcome for a young company that still isn't generating revenue.

Facebook is betting it can leverage not only Instagram's photo filtering and sharing services but also its skyrocketing user base. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram now has more than 30 million registered users with hundreds of millions of photos shared.

Here's a quick history of how Instagram grew from a simple idea to a $1 billion acquisition:

Related: Instagram Founders Agree to Facebook Buyout

March 2010: Stanford University grad Kevin Systrom closes a $500,000 seed round from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on a location-based app called Burbn.

July 2010: Systrom and Mike Krieger, who also studied at Stanford, begin designing an app for sharing photos.

October 2010: Systrom and Krieger launch the Instagram photo-sharing iPhone app with 80 initial users.

Systrom uploads the first picture to Instagram.

December 2010: Instagram announces full photo support and sharing on Foursquare.

The app reaches 1 million registered users.

February 2011: Users grow to 1.75 million, sharing more than 290,000 photos daily.

The company raises a $7 million financing round led by Benchmark Capital and a group of angel investors including Twitter's Jack Dorsey.

Instagram releases a real-time API that allows universal sharing on any service.

July 2011: Instagram's registered users top 6 million. More than 100 million photos have been shared.

August 2011: Facebook says it's getting ready to unveil a series of its own photo filters, reportedly after a failed attempt to purchase Instagram.

October 2011: One year after launch, Instagram's number of users continues to explode, with nearly 50,000 people signing up for the service each day, Systrom says.

November 2011: News reports hint that the company is seeking a $20 million valuation as it puts together another round of funding.

At TechCrunch Disrupt in Beijing, Systrom says the startup's most difficult day was its first, when the site crashed multiple times. "But it turns out people are very forgiving for something they love a lot," he says.

January 2012: From 1 million registered users at the beginning of 2011, Instagram grows to more than 15 million users. On average, 60 photos are uploaded every second, the company says.

April 2012: Sequoia Capital is said to be leading a $50 million funding round for the company, valuing Instagram at $500 million.

The company unveils its Instagram for Android app and says it now has more than 30 million users.

Facebook announces that it has agreed to purchase Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.

Related: Selling Your Business? Serial 'Trep Gurbaksh Chahal Says Be Bought, Not Sold (Video)

Jason Fell

VP, Native Content

Jason Fell is the VP of Native Content, managing the Entrepreneur Partner Studio, which creates dynamic and compelling content for our partners. He previously served as Entrepreneur.com's managing editor and as the technology editor prior to that.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Side Hustle

These Are the Highest-Paying Side Hustles for a Single Day of Work

Earn the most money in the least amount of time.

Leadership

Mastering the Skill of Convincing Stakeholders to Approve and Execute Ideas

There's a big difference between approval-seeking and being your own biggest advocate.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Starting a Business

For Years, This Black Founder Learned an Uncommon But Essential Craft on the Side. Now His Creations Are Beloved By Celebrity Chefs — and Can Sell for More Than $1,000.

A chance encounter with a legendary knifemaker would lead Quintin Middleton, owner of Middleton Made Knives, to follow his long-time passion into business.

Business News

TikTok's CEO Is an Honorary Chair at the 2024 Met Gala

Conde Nast's Chief Content Offer, Anna Wintour, made the announcement Thursday.

Money & Finance

5 Proven Ways to Maximize Your Profitability as a First-Time Author

Unlock the secrets to turning your debut book into a profitable venture with proven marketing tactics.