You’ve got to clear out the crap in your life if you want to have room for prosperity. That’s just good feng shui! And look how well it’s worked out for Instagram.
More than 18.9 million fake users vanished from the photo-sharing service between Wednesday and Thursday as Instagram actively deleted spambots, the New York Times reports. And voila! On Friday, Citigroup issued a note valuing Instagram at $35 billion.
That’s a heck of a return on the $1 billion Facebook paid for the company in 2012. Still, the nearly 55% percent boost over Citigroup’s previous valuation—$19 billion—likely isn’t the total result of the recent Instagram Rapture that depleted celebrity Instagram accounts which attract advertisers with high follower counts. Instagram announced last week that it now has more than 300 million users excluding the deleted spambots—rapid growth that now makes bigger than Twitter, with 284 million users.
Like Twitter, Instagram will soon verify its famous users, which might take some of the sting out of the 3.5 million followers Justin Bieber lost to the Instagram rapture, or the 1.3 million Kim Kardashian lost on her account.
Being verifiably famous on Instagram means big money for photo-sharing celebrities willing to endorse brands through the social network. It also means a black market in fake Twitter followers in the form of spambots that can be purchased for a price.
Trouble is, spambots can’t be manipulated into buying stuff a Kardashian says is cool. Still, the industry of shadow followers hasn’t spooked Citigroup, which projects Instagram has the potential to earn as $2 billion annually for Facebook.