Instagram, Obama, and Why We Should Be Wary of Social Media Start-Ups Part 1 by Isaac Matson

Mark Zuckerberg's billion dollar handshake with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has brought the booming social media market into focus, pushing entrepreneurship to center stage in the election year debate over the economy.

 President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are staking their careers on improvement in private sector job growth and start-ups seem to hold promise, as new businesses have the potential to create new jobs.

Obama signed the bipartisan JOBS (Jump-Start Our Business Start Ups) Act in April, a rare example of election year cooperation hailed by both Republicans and Democrats as a step in the right direction. Called a “potential game changer” by the President, the JOBS Act would allow entrepreneurs to raise small amounts of money on the internet from individuals through websites registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. No longer would an entrepreneur be limited to raising funds for their start-up from a small group of venture capitalists.

In an official statement, Duncan L. Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, had this to say: “I was pleased to join President Obama at the White House today as he signed this important measure into law. We believe the exchanges have a responsibility to help small companies grow by providing entrepreneurs with a source of capital. Good policy, such as the Jobs Act, ensures that entrepreneurs and small businesses have access to the capital they need to expand and thrive.” Now any Bill Gates hopeful can access the brave new world of online capital to achieve their dreams.

The JOBS Act has its roots in our messiah complex. If only Steve Jobs could rise from the grave. Or maybe there is another Mark Zuckerberg, lurking somewhere out there on the edge of success, waiting for that all crucial start-up money. These men have become our saints, both emulated and prayed to. We admire them, in part because they embody a story we love: a person starting from nothing to carve out success on their own terms. Their lives have become an all-American narrative, the next chapter of which the JOBS Act hopes to help write.

Kevin Systrom is the newest member of this elite tech entrepreneur club. Last month he sold his Instagram app to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for a cool $1 billion. The deal was largely negotiated in private over the course of three days at Zuckerberg’s house in Palo Alto. The Facebook CEO, who controls the majority of its voting rights, did not inform his board of directors until after he had reached an agreement with Systrom. With a user base of 35 million, many agree that the purchase of Instagram was a smart move.

Isaac J.Matson