Mike Isaac

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Showing No Signs of Slowing, Instagram Hits 80 Million Users

Continuing its breakneck pace of user growth and scaling, Instagram announced on Thursday that the site had reached the 80 million user mark, a 60 percent increase in its community over the past 13 weeks.

“We now have >5.7m users per employee,” Instagram infrastructure engineer Rick Branson wrote in a tweet. If you do the math, that’s 14 employees. And there’s more to come: “We’re hiring :),” Branson added.

It’s a significant milestone for the company, which has only continued to gain traction over the past year. The company finally launched its Android application in April, and almost instantaneously gained millions of users. To date, those 80 million-plus users have shared more than 4 billion photos using the service.

Gauge that growth for one minute: Instagram first launched in October of 2010. It took a year and a half for the company to reach 50 million users, which it announced toward the end of April. It only took an additional three months to bolster its ranks by another 60 percent, or 30 million users. Frankly, that growth is nuts.

There were concerns that Facebook’s announcement it would acquire Instagram for $1 billion would curtail the service’s growth; perhaps a Facebook-owned Instagram could screw up the already massively popular, simple service. Others worried that the addition of millions of Android users would muddy the quality of items shared; even Apple exec Phil Schiller stopped using the service after Android was added.

But the Facebook acquisition hasn’t gone through yet, still held up in review by the FTC. And growth obviously shows no signs of slowing.

Now, as Instagram continues to spread — with Open Graph integration making the app more visible within Facebook, as well as recent Foursquare integration — the challenge is continuing to scale. And as Branson’s tweet shows, CEO Kevin Systrom isn’t shy about picking up new talent before moving over to Facebook (if the acquisition goes through, that is).

The announcement comes on another momentous day: Facebook’s first earnings call. We’ll have to wait and see if the social giant has any input as to the status of the acquisition.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus