Instagram goes to Washington

@CNNMoneyTech January 25, 2012: 4:58 PM ET
Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger shared a photo of him and irst Lady Michelle Obama. Krieger was her guest at The State of The Union.

Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger shared a photo of him and irst Lady Michelle Obama. Krieger was her guest at The State of The Union.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's not everyday a startup founder gets an invite to one of the White House's most anticipated events.

Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger got the call last Friday. Krieger, a Brazilian native, was invited as First Lady Michelle Obama's guest to the President's State of the Union address.

"You don't say no to the White House," Krieger said. "I booked a flight and arrived Monday night."

Although President Obama's campaign actively uses photosharing tool Instagram, his presence was tied more to a larger policy initiative.

In Krieger's case, his attendance represented the need for legislation that would assist non U.S. citizen startup founders looking to build a company in America.

Krieger, who co-founded Instagram with Kevin Systrom in 2010, is currently working under an H1-B after his student visa came to an end. With $7.5 million in funding, 10 employees, and 15 million users, he's now looking to stay in the United States permanently and continue to grow the company.

In his State of the Union address, Obama alluded to the importance of immigration reform aimed at startup founders like Krieger who want to stay in the United States to build a company despite the upcoming election.

"We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now," Obama said. "But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country."

During his time in Washington, Krieger spent the morning with the White House's Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and CTO advisor on mobile and data innovation Brian Forde.

"We brought Mike in early to hear his story and learn about what he's done and get his feedback," Chopra said. "The president has acknowledged and is very supportive of the idea that we need an immigration policy that makes sense in today's economy and that is in part due to people like Mike who are choosing to come to our nation ... to hire and employ people to stay and grow jobs."

But reform must reflect the changes in the technology realm, Krieger said.

"A lot of the regulations were created before we got into this age where folks can start companies cheaply and bootstrap and get things started," he says. "Nowadays companies start with fewer people and less investments, so it's a matter of finding out what regulations can be updated to match that reality."

But Krieger feels optimistic.

"It feels to me that this issue is slightly less contentious than others," he said.

Before leaving the White House, Krieger snapped a picture of the First Lady on Instagram, added a photo filter, and posted it to Twitter. And like any entrepreneur, he's always looking for new users.

"Hopefully we can get Michelle on Instagram soon," he said To top of page

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