Why Didn’t Twitter Snag Instagram?

So the day after every platform was swamped with news of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, folks are beginning to wonder why Twitter didn’t make the first move and snap up the extremely popular photo-sharing application. And the fact that Twitter cofounder, Jack Dorsey, was an investor in Instagram has people scratching their heads and wondering, “What was he thinking?”

On March 12 this year, a mere two months ago, Twitter acquired the popular blogging platform Posterous and there was happiness throughout the land. And those who weren’t happy (some Posterous users) moved on to Tumblr, so Tumblr was likely happy too. Win-win all around.

Twitter welcomed Posterous to the flock because it had “built an innovative product that makes sharing across the web and mobile devices simple—a goal we share.” Well, over the past few months, Instagram has become wildly popular for sharing across the web and mobile devices as well, so why didn’t that likewise grab Twitter’s attention?

It was impressive enough to catch Jack Dorsey’s eye and move him to invest in the application. So, why then did Dorsey not step forward and acquire Instagram for Twitter? Particularly when not doing so may significantly hurt Twitter in the long-term race against Facebook, as this piece on Business Insider points out:

One advantage Twitter always had over Facebook was that it was a superior product to use on your mobile device. Specifically, it was a better, faster, easier way to take a picture with your phone and share it with your friends. . . Now that advantage is gone.  Facebook users who wanted a better way to share photos on mobile now have one less reason to become Twitter users.

Is Dorsey too busy with his new company, Square? And is it time for Twitter to consider “hiring a full-time product guy?”

Splitting your time between two completely different companies is the opposite of focus, no matter how talented you are. And pretending that you can do each of these jobs as well as you would if you only had one of them is not just dreamy–it’s delusional.

Now, it’s possible that Jack is such an amazing product genius that his half-time effort is better than anyone else’s full-time effort, but this seems unlikely.

We’re sure there are many great reasons why Twitter didn’t buy Instagram – likely the fact that it “lacks any significant revenue sources” played a significant part in the decision, for example. And the $1 billion dollar price tag certainly wasn’t cheap.

But what do you think? Did Twitter drop the ball and miss out on an app that could’ve given it a significant edge over competitors?

(Man with head in hand photo from Shutterstock)


@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.