Marne Levine: She’s Instagra-worthy

July 24 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Picture Perfect

Before social media and blogs and emails—Remember those days?—there were good old-fashioned photo albums. That’s how we shared memories of our vacations, images of our birthday parties and the absolute cutest pics of our babies and puppies. Each photo was like a piece of our own personal history. But before you get too nostalgic, let’s take a moment to remember what it was actually like to fill those photo albums. We had to ask ourselves, “Is this moment worth the cost of the film and developing, or will this used film roll just sit untouched in the junk drawer for the next decade?” Racing to retrieve your newly developed photos was exciting, until you saw that your finger was over the lens in about half the photos. The next time you take 73 selfies to find that perfect one or 14 snaps of your seaweed popcorn, thank the tech goddesses for all our modern-day marvels.


One reason most of us can’t get enough of apps like Instagram can be summed up in one word: filters, the instant face-smoothing, atmosphere-setting technology that somehow makes us look even more beautiful and turns that sprinkled doughnut into a work of art. And according to research, women are loving it! A 2015 Pew Research study of American residents found that 31 percent of women versus 24 percent of men use Instagram regularly. A teenage girl I know can get hundreds of likes within about 30 minutes, so I’m thinking that stat has only risen in the past couple years. Meanwhile, I feel like I set a world record when my silly Instagram posts garner likes in the double digits.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Marne Levine, Chief Operating Officer of Instagram

Today’s Woman to Watch is the brains behind the day-to-day operations of the world’s most popular photo app. Her name is Marne Levine and she’s Instagram’s esteemed chief operating officer.

Though Marne now runs a company that thrives on the aspect of fun, her career has included some pretty impressive and serious work. She is a Harvard grad and spent years working for the U.S. Department of Treasury. Later, she returned to her alma mater to work as the chief of staff for Larry Summers, the president of Harvard, and even spent a couple years working for the White House National Economic Council.

Those experiences eventually led Marne to her first tech gig: director of product management for a financial-services company, where she was responsible for person-to-person online money transfers and working out about 1,000 bugs following user testing. A few years later, as a newfound tech expert, Marne dipped her toe into the social-media realm, taking a job as the vice president for global public policy at Facebook, where she spent four years delving into how social media affects users on a global scale.

After Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it was only a matter of time before Marne, one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley, took the lead at the photo giant. When Marne became COO in 2015, she took a transparent approach, asking employees for feedback about what she did wrong in the last meeting, and totally owning her role—all in an effort to create a company culture of openness and a vibe that it’s OK to make mistakes.

Her approach and hard work are definitely paying off. Under Marne’s leadership, Instagram has grown to include 600 million monthly users across the globe, now has eight offices outside the U.S. and the advertising platform she oversees for the company is expected to generate about $3 billion by the end of this year. Now that’s a pretty picture!


With Instagram and Marne Levine in mind, I’ll leave you today with this quote from Walt Disney. He said:

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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