It’s hard to let go of the narrative surrounding Instagram’s billion-dollar sale to Facebook, which is said to have been orchestrated personally by Mark Zuckerberg and, according to the New York Times, might have come directly after the company turned down a competing offer from Twitter. The story is simply begging to be written like a Valley-centric thriller: What might have happened if things had turned out differently between a photo-sharing service and the companies willing to spend hundreds of millions — or billions — of dollars to get their hands on it?
According to Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, the stakes might have been even higher than you’d think. Speaking at our PandoMonthly New York event last week, Wilson said that Twitter’s failure to cinch Instagram was a “huge, enormous” mistake. “If they had Instagram they would be better than Facebook,” Wilson said. “They’d have tweets; they’d have photos; and they’d have videos. And I think that would be the trifecta that would kill Facebook.”
The fact that Mark Zuckerberg realized this and started wooing the company was “genius,” Wilson said. Combine that with Facebook’s looming IPO, and what you end up with was a force against which Twitter simply couldn’t compete. “There wasn’t a price Twitter could pay that Facebook couldn’t match, and Facebook could pay with currency that Twitter couldn’t,” Wilson said. “I think there was just no way that Twitter could win that deal.”