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The Hamburger Button That Broke The Camel’s Back – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

The Hamburger Button That Broke The Camel’s Back

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In September, 2018 Instagram’s founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger abruptly resigned from their parent company Facebook.  In the weeks after their departure there was a ton of speculation about what caused the split.  While many speculated about a high noon style showdown between Systrom/Krieger and Zuckerberg/Sandberg, the real reason for the divorce was almost comically mundane.

As reported in the Verge, the reason Systrom and Krieger left Instagram (and the Facebook mothership), was a series of small issues in which Instagram’s growth as a stand-alone platform was deprioritized to the benefit of Facebook.  This grinded on Kevin Systrom in particular, who protested the moves Zuckerberg was making but eventually acquiesced.  But as is the case with many “little things”, the frustrations started to build up until one seemingly minor incident broke the camel’s back.

In this case the incident was Facebook’s design team adding a “hamburger button” menu icon in the upper right corner of the Instagram app (image below).  Hamburgers are fairly common with apps, but it’s sort of a visually crude way to access a menu on a mobile device.  According to reports, this change was the final straw which set into the motion the founders’ resignations.

This story goes to show how basic problems like a lack of compromise and conflict escalation can have a profound impact on even billion dollar tech companies.  It also makes you wonder if any of the main players in this drama learned any interpersonal communication skills from this.


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