Instagram head Adam Mosseri is moving to London, signalling a strategic shift for the social networking app that is in a fierce battle with viral video platform TikTok to attract and retain younger audiences.
His move will effectively make the UK capital, which is parent company Meta’s biggest engineering hub outside of the US with more than 4,000 employees, Instagram’s base over the coming months.
Mosseri will relocate later this year and build out Instagram’s presence in London by hiring more staff to work at Meta’s new offices in King’s Cross, according to multiple people with knowledge of the plans.
A focus for Instagram is scaling up the company’s product team dedicated to retaining its community of influencers. These teams have historically been based in Los Angeles and New York.
Mosseri is known for his close relationship with Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook and Meta, who has expressed concern that the company is losing users to TikTok.
Meta announced last week that its quarterly revenues declined for the first time. The company blamed macroeconomic pressures hitting marketing budgets, as well as the effect of Apple’s privacy changes, which allow iPhone users to opt out of data tracking that generates targeted ads.
Mosseri’s requested relocation away from Meta’s California headquarters is temporary and partly driven by a desire to live in London, said those close to the plans.
Mosseri joined the company in 2008 and led the team that developed Facebook’s News Feed. He was made head of Instagram in 2018 when the app’s original co-founders quit the company following a rocky acquisition.
One person familiar with Instagram’s operations suggested that the plans were also a cost-saving measure, as engineers in the UK are up to three times cheaper than in San Francisco. Instagram said it would continue to invest in global talent.
Meta could also take advantage of the UK government’s recent overhaul of research and development tax credits, introduced by then-chancellor Rishi Sunak to support technological investment, the person added.
Meta has met Sunak and culture secretary Nadine Dorries in the past year to discuss the company’s presence in the UK, among other topics, according to public records of the meetings.
Meta said it regularly meets with the UK government on a range of issues, but that Mosseri had not met any UK government officials in the past year.
In its results last week, Meta’s total costs and expenses increased 22 per cent year on year in the first quarter, while headcount was up 32 per cent. Zuckerberg said teams would have to shrink, with downsizing decisions delegated to individual team leaders.
One thing I hear a lot is people asking to see more friend content in Feed. I’d love for there to be more friend content in feed, but all the growth in photos and videos from friends has been in stories and in DMs.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) July 26, 2022
Last week, Instagram reversed a change to its algorithm which critics have argued generated mainly videos from influencers and advertising content, instead of content from friends.
The change had led to a backlash from users and celebrities, including Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, who shared a post that said “stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends”.
Mosseri initially tried to defend the company’s position, only to reverse course days later.
Instagram said that “based on our findings and community feedback, we’re pausing the full-screen test on Instagram so we can explore other options, and we’re temporarily decreasing the number of recommendations you see in your feed so we can improve the quality of your experience”.
Additional reporting by George Parker in London
This article has been updated to clarify Instagram’s position on recent changes made to its algorithm
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