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Tech Crunch editor-at-large Josh Constine (L) interviews Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger (C) and Kevin Systrom at SXSW 2019. Photo: Jim Bennett/WireImage via Getty Images

Months after their departure from Facebook, Instagram's co-founders took to the stage at SXSW to explain why they sold their company to Facebook, and why they left the social network.

The big picture: “The idea behind it was that we wanted to make a bet on the company,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said of the decision to sell to Facebook. And if the goal was to pick a company that would help Instagram continue to grow, that bet paid off, he said.

While a lack of autonomy may have driven Systrom and co-founder Mike Krieger to leave Facebook, it was also inevitable.

  • "In some ways, there being less autonomy is a function of Instagram winning,” Systrom said. “It got to a size where it was meaningfully important to the company. It’s just an unavoidable thing if you’re successful.”

More from the interview:

  • Adding ads to Instagram: “To be clear, we were the ones pushing monetization, not the other way around,” Systrom said. We believed Instagram has to make money somehow... Whether you like ads or not, put that aside, we have to make money somehow.”
  • Warren’s proposal to break up tech: “I’d like to see … more specificity on … what problem are we solving… what integrations and problems we’re talking about… and think through what the externalities would be,” Krieger said. Systrom added that some problems like rising economic inequality and Russian election meddling are serious but are better addressed with real solutions than simply riding the anti-tech wave.
  • Whether there can be a new social media hit: “I think it’s possible,” Systrom said. “It comes in waves and you’d be surprised how determined consumers are to have another good solution. … I’d be really surprised if there wasn’t another.”

What's next: Systrom and Krieger were coy on their next move, but seemed to indicate they might be game for another startup.

Go deeper: Instagram overshadows Facebook as an engagement powerhouse

Go deeper

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

6 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.