Instagram’s first office had few redeeming qualities—and insulation was not one of them. There were only two of us, so we rented desks in a co-working space on a pier over San Francisco Bay. At night, it was common to find us working in winter jackets huddled over our laptops where the air was so cold we could see our breath. It was October 2010 when we launched Instagram, and San Francisco had dealt us a particularly unforgiving and chilly fall.
One night soon after launch, about a half-mile away, the Giants’ stadium was full of fans cheering on their team in a race for the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies. You see, having so little insulation in the office had an unintended consequence of being able to hear the crowd roar every time someone hit a long ball out towards McCovey Cove. Back in the office, we’d lift our heads up from code with every eruption of the fans, wondering who was at bat, what had happened, and whether the ball had made it or not. We never knew, but that wasn’t the point.