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Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger – How to Build a Great Product

Invest Like the Best with Patrick O'Shaughnessy

November 19, 2019

93 minutes

My guests this week are Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram. I met Kevin and Mike a few months ago over a shared interest in business and investing. I have found them both to be extremely good people who have a rare talent for finding and solving interesting problems. Indeed, problem-solving and jobs-to-be-done is a big part of our conversation. I realized walking into the podcast that Kevin and Mike have a rare set of experiences: having both built and sold an extremely successful product from scratch, but then also operated and scaled inside one of the largest businesses in the world. This means they have unique knowledge to offer just about anyone interested in business and products. We dig into all those lessons here. I am working on hosting more founders and CEOs on the podcast, and can’t think of a better pair to show you why I want to do so. Please enjoy my conversation with Kevin and Mike. 

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Show Notes

1:38 – (first question) – Projects they’ve been working on since leaving Instagram

5:22 – How they can apply what they are learning in machine learning

7:18 – Most interesting experience diving back into data and machine learning

8:42 – How startups compare today to when they founded Instagram

13:23 – Judging founders and whether they know how to use their data effectively

14:26 – The jobs-to-be-done framework

19:14 – Laying out a vision vs solving problems that pop up

25:20 – Developing and sharing the principles of the company with the team

30:48 – Creating a community when it includes almost the entire world

39:03 – The most popular ways people used the platform

41:24 – What was the jobs-to-be-done rational behind the stories feature

44:15 – Interesting things that they saw as Instagram entered the developing world

46:40 – Their thoughts on how Instagram shaped culture and if they focused on those

52:58 – The new waves that they are observing right now

55:11 – How their thinking on leadership and teams changed during their time at Instagram and Facebook

1:03:23 – The pillars of a good business, including humility and confidence

1:06:06 – Focus on growth and distribution in a startup

1:10:01 – How early were they thinking about monetization on this free platform

1:13:43 – How do they think about how they invest their money and allocate resources

1:17:36 – Mentors for Kevin and Mike

1:20:30 – Their passion for learning to fly and the someday/maybe list

1:23:01 – Their interest in coffee

1:26:24 – Advice for everyone else

1:30:00 – Kindest thing anyone has done for them


Learn More

For more episodes go to

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag

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