Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics for Getting What You Want at the Negotiation Table: Patience is a Winning Negotiation Skill

How patience can help negotiators create and claim value in negotiations

By on / Dispute Resolution

On April 9, the hearts of internet entrepreneurs everywhere must have skipped a beat at the news that Facebook was paying $1 billion in cash and stock to buy Instagram, a San Francisco-based start-up.

Less than two years old, Instagram offers mobile apps that allow users to add effects to their smartphone photos and share them with friends. Though the company has no revenue and employs only about a dozen people, it has experienced a meteoric rise and enjoys an “almost cult-life following,” according to the New York Times. Its 30 million users upload more than five million photos a day, though the app was only available on Apple devices recently.


Discover how to improve your dispute resolution skills in this free report, Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from Harvard Law School.


The acquisition was Facebook’s largest to date and is aimed at giving the social network a higher profile on mobile devices. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom first caught the attention of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, the Times reports. Impressed by Systrom’s Photobox service, which allows people to send and receive large photo files, Zuckerberg offered him a job – but Systrom, then a sophomore at Stanford University, decided to stay in school

Systrom’s later creation with Mike Krieger, Instagram, gained instant popularity by allowing users to post their pictures to Twitter. In early 2011, Mr. Zuckerberg expressed interest in purchasing Instagram, but Systrom chose to focus on independent expansion, the Times reports.

A week before the Facebook acquisition, Instagram closed a roughly $50 million financing round with several investors. The financing round valued the photo service at about $500 million, according to the New York Times. Facebook’s purchase a week later doubled that investment value. The momentum and buzz surrounding the financing is likely what compelled Facebook to make its billion-dollar deal, which may have been done in just a few days.

In anticipation of a public offering that could value the company at around $100 billion, Facebook could easily afford to pay Instagram’s steep price tag. Systrom and Zuckerberg stressed that Facebook would keep Instagram running as a separate service, at least for the time being.

For business negotiators, Instagram’s happy ending suggests the importance of striking when the iron is hot, but not a minute before. Focused on allowing their brand and popularity to build, Instagram’s founders avoided the temptation to sell off  too soon – and maximized their power at the table when the time came to make a deal.

Related Dispute Resolution Article:  Examples of Difficult Situations at Work – Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People


Discover how to improve your dispute resolution skills in this free report, Dispute Resolution, Working Together Toward Conflict Resolution on the Job and at Home, from Harvard Law School.


Originally published in 2012.

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