Technology

The life and career rise of Instagram head Adam Mosseri, the Facebook exec behind 'like' counts disappearing

Adam Mosseri

  • Adam Mosseri has now been the head of Instagram for over a year, since the photo-sharing app’s cofounders abruptly left their jobs at Facebook.
  • Mosseri, 36, has pushed changes on Instagram meant to curb bullying and improve users’ mental health. His most notable measure has been testing the removal of public likes from the platform, which could roll out to everyone in 2020.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the head of Instagram: an employee at Facebook for more than a decade, a “close confidant” to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and a father of two.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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Adam Mosseri, 36, was born and raised in Chappaqua, New York. He attended New York University’s Gallatin School of Interdisciplinary Study, where he majored in information design and media. To help pay rent, he started designing websites.

Source: Yahoo Finance, New York Times

While attending NYU, Mosseri launched his own design firm called Blank Mosseri. The company focused on graphic, interaction, and exhibition design — including making a rendering of what One World Trade Center could look like — and eventually was able to open a second office in San Francisco.

Source: Yahoo Finance, Adam Mosseri on LinkedIn 

After graduating from NYU in 2005, Mosseri moved out to San Francisco to work out of his design firm’s West Coast office. He told the New York Times that he created a music-sharing app called Boombox, which promptly got shut down — but it did catch the attention of Facebook.

Source: New York Times, Adam Mosseri on LinkedIn 

Mosseri took a job the following year as an adjunct professor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He stayed on for only one school year, then went to work at a live-video startup called TokBox as its first product designer.

Source: Yahoo Finance, Adam Mosseri on LinkedIn 

Mosseri joined Facebook’s design team in 2008. His longtime girlfriend (and now-wife), Monica, was already working at the company. The couple got married in 2013 while they both were working at Facebook.

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Source: New York Times

In 2012, Mosseri moved over to product management, where he worked on Facebook’s mobile app and its failed Facebook Home interface. He was also put in charge of News Feed, tasking him with leading the product through one of Facebook’s most difficult periods in 2016, when the platform was flooded with Russian propaganda and fake news during the presidential election.

Source: Yahoo Finance, TechCrunch

In his more than a decade at Facebook, Mosseri has reportedly become a “close confidant” to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg. According to a recent profile of Mosseri in the New York Times, the two men exist in similar social circles, go on morning pre-work runs together, and have children around the same age.

Source: New York Times

Mosseri went on paternity leave at the start of 2018 after his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child. When he returned to Facebook in May 2018, Mosseri took over as Instagram’s VP of product.

Source: Yahoo FinanceTechCrunch

In September 2018, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger took the tech world by surprise and announced they were leaving their roles at Facebook, where they served as the photo-sharing app’s CEO and CTO respectively. The departure reportedly came after growing tensions between the two cofounders and Zuckerberg over “the direction of the product.”

Source: Business Insider

A week later, Facebook announced that Mosseri would take over as head of Instagram, after serving in six different roles at Facebook. In the announcement, Facebook touted Mosseri’s background in design and “deep understanding of the importance of community.” He was also tasked with recruiting a new executive team for the company to replace himself and other recent departures.

Source: Business Insider, TechCrunch

Mosseri’s entry into the leading role at Instagram was reportedly met with skepticism internally at Facebook. But in his first year on the job, Mosseri pushed out a number of measures meant to improve user safety and integrity, especially related to bullying and mental health.

After Instagram was blamed for the suicide of British teenager Molly Russell in early 2019, Mosseri acknowledged the platform wasn’t doing enough and Instagram banned all graphic images of self-harm soon afterwards.

However, the most significant change that’s happened during Mosseri’s tenure is Instagram’s experiment with hiding public ‘likes’ on posts — internally referred to as “Project Daisy.” Mosseri has said the purpose of the test is to create “a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.” The change is being tested on users around the world, but Mosseri has hinted the rollout could extend to everyone “early this year.”

Mosseri said the project was at least partially inspired by an episode of “Black Mirror.”

Source: Business Insider, New York Times

Still, Mosseri has had some missteps. In comments met with severe backlash, he defended Facebook News’ handpicked inclusion of far-right publication Breitbart News. He’s also adamantly pushed back against the idea of breaking up Facebook because of its immense power in tech, arguing that it would make Instagram less safe.

Source: Business Insider, Recode

Mosseri lives in San Francisco with his wife of seven years, Monica Mosseri — who works as a partner at an interior design firm — and they have two young sons: Nico, 4, and Blaise, 2.

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Source: Yahoo Finance, Adam Mosseri on Instagram

Mosseri’s family is one of several tech executives who have been victims of swatting: prank calls made to police or 911 in an attempt to get a large police response, like a SWAT team, sent to someone else’s home.

In November 2019, an emergency caller reported a shooting at Mosseri’s home in San Francisco. Two days later, someone claiming to be Mosseri’s brother called 911 to say he shot his wife three times, sending police to the address of the New York City apartment that the sibling owns.



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