Most Successful Startups


This is the tale of two guys who created an app in just eight short weeks. A Stanford alumnus named Kevin Systrom, who worked on Google’s Gmail and corporate development, spent his weekends creating an app called Burbn that allowed location-aware photo and note sharing. Mike Krieger, an early user of Burbn and co-founder of Instagram, was introduced to Kevin in this way. Later, Burbn was rebranded as Instagram and limited to images only.


Two guys created an app in under 8 weeks, according to this tale. Kevin Systrom, a Stanford alumnus who worked on Google’s Gmail and corporate development, spent his weekends creating Burbn, a mobile application that enables location-aware photo and note sharing. That is how Kevin first met Mike Krieger, a pioneering Burbn user, and co-founder of Instagram. Later, Burbn was relegated to just images and given the name Instagram.


Reid Hoffman assembled a group of former SocialNet and PayPal coworkers to work on a new concept in the latter half of 2002. In his living room, Reid started LinkedIn in May 2003 and invited 350 of his connections to join his network and set up their profiles. The company first saw modest growth—as few as 20 signups on certain days—but by the fall, it had gained enough traction to draw Sequoia Capital’s investment.


Three college pals, Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy, were putting their business prowess to the test. Reggie said, “I wish these images I’m sending this girl would vanish,” during a casual conversation. Even then referred to it as a “million dollar concept” shortly after. After developing the app, Picaboo was introduced. Reggie and Evan later argued, and Evan and Bobby ordered him to leave. They then changed the name to Snapchat.


The thought of having so much advertising on any page irritated Jan Koum and Brian Acton, two friends, and coworkers from Yahoo. Both departed Yahoo in 2007 and took a year to unwind. Both tried to get jobs at Facebook but were unsuccessful. They finally launched WhatsApp in 2009 after many ups and downs, with the explicit intent that their service would never contain any advertising and would have a persistent emphasis on offering a gimmick, dependable, frictionless user experience.


The board members of the podcasting firm Odeo convened a day-long brainstorming session that is credited with giving birth to Twitter. When he was still an undergraduate at New York University, Jack Dorsey pioneered the concept of using an SMS service to interact with a small number of people.


Mark Zuckerberg, then 19 years old and a second-year Harvard student, started an internal social networking site for Harvard students. The website quickly reached other colleges after becoming well-liked by students. The website relocated its operational headquarters to Palo Alto, California, and received its first investment from Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, in 2004.