Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger leaving firm

Olivia Tobin
Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger in 2012: REUTERS

The co-founders of Instagram have announced they are both leaving the firm.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger said they were leaving the social media giant to “explore our curiosity and creativity”.

The pair have resigned as chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app, owned by Facebook.

The departures at Facebook's fastest-growing revenue generator come just months after the exit of Jan Koum, co-founder of Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp.

They have also left at a time when Facebook's core platform is under fire for how it safeguards customer data.

Mr Systrom wrote in a blog post on Monday that he and Mr Krieger planned to take time off.

Mr Systrom wrote a statement on behalf of the pair (AP)

He said: “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion.

“We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.”

In a statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the two as "extraordinary product leaders".

"I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I'm looking forward to seeing what they build next," Mr Zuckerberg said.

Instagram said Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger notified the photo-sharing app's leadership team and Facebook on Monday about their decision to leave.

Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger met each other during their university days, at Stanford University, and worked separately in Silicon Valley before forming Instagram in 2010.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. The photo-sharing app has over 1 billion active monthly users and has grown by adding features such as messaging and short videos.

Additional reporting by Reuters