Best Non-Fiction Books to Read: No Filter (Sarah Frier)

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Instagram is one of the most recognizable platforms in the world, but a lot of its history is unknown to a lot of people. In the book No Filter, author Sarah Frier takes us behind the scenes about Instagram’s rise from a super small company to becoming part of Facebook, before eventually becoming the social media giant it is today.

I remember hearing back when Instagram sold to Facebook for $1 billion about how big of an overpay it seemed like at the time. Instagram only had 13 employees and was no where near the size it is today (where it would be worth way more than $1 billion), and most people thought it was a fad that Facebook didn’t have to worry about. In No Filter though, Frier goes into detail about the courtship Mark Zuckerberg had with Instagram’s founders, and why at the time he thought it was worth paying a billion dollars for Instagram.

Part of Instagram’s story that I was unaware of is Jack Dorsey’s (founder of Twitter and Square) involvement in the product. Dorsey was one of the first investors in Instagram, as one of the founders of Instagram had previously interned at Twitter under Dorsey. There was a lot of speculation that Twitter would actually be the company that bought Instagram before Facebook ended up buying it, and there is still a lot of acrimony between the two sides over the acquisition. It could have really changed the course of Silicon Valley history if Twitter had been the one to buy Instagram rather than Facebook.

No Filter also goes into depth about the relationship between Instagram’s founding team and Mark Zuckerberg, and how over time they gradually lost autonomy over their product. While Instagram has become one of the key products in Facebook’s ecosystem, Zuckerberg was apparently hesitant at launching any products within Instagram that might be bad for Facebook’s (the standalone app) bottom line. Even though he owns both companies, Facebook is Zuckerberg’s baby and he doesn’t want anything to take away from it.

No Filter Recommendation Rating: 4

1: Something worth checking out if you have time

2: Something that is a hit for some people, but not a must for everyone

3: Something worth prioritizing if interested

4: Something worth making time to check out

5: An absolute home run, worth going out of your way for


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