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MEDIA MATTERS: What is the true value of technology?

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How many of you remember the myriad of stories you heard as children about the self-made millionaire? Or the stories of Horatio Alger, or later, Tom Swift?

Today these morality tales generate a lot of “ho-hums” and eye-ball rolling.

But here’s one that got my attention, and prompted me to do a little more research to see what the fuss is all about.

It’s a free phone app called Instagram.

Instagram allows users to manipulate and share pictures they take with their smart phones.

By applying various color and shape filters, users can create a wide-range of images that can then be posted and retrieved.  

But here’s what caught my eye: The company that created Instagram was recently bought by Facebook for $1 billion.

That’s “billion,” with a “B.”

But lots of tech companies are worth a billion dollars.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, Instagram has been around since late 2010, about a year and a half, and it’s worth a billion dollars.

By way of comparison, The New York Times has been around for 116 years, and is worth $900 million and change.

When Instagram was introduced, some 25,000 people downloaded it the first day.

In three months there were a million users.

In a year there were 10 million.

Today, there are about 30 million users who have uploaded more than 200 million photographs.

OK, those are staggering numbers.

But here’s what really struck me: Last year the company had four employees. Today it has 13.  

That’s right.

This company has 13 employees, each of which will share in that $1 billion.

The two co-founders will take about half of that, and the other 11 will split $100 million dollars, or about $9 million dollars each.

And the two co-founders, by the way, are only 26 years old.

Lots of billion dollar tech companies were started by only one or two people.

And every time I read about one of them my eyes get sort of misty as I sigh and say to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Tagged under  Business, Facebook, Instagram, Larry Burriss, Technology, Voices

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