No Filter wins the 2020 Business Book of the Year Award

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram was just named the 2020 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year. In the book, Sarah Frier, an award-winning journalist, tells the story behind the pictures—of Instagram. She chronicles the evolution of a photo-sharing app into a global force that influences our everyday life: the way we eat, look, travel, socialize, and communicate.

The award was announced by McKinsey global managing partner Kevin Sneader and Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf at a virtual event today. Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Reckitt Benckiser Group and a McKinsey alumnus, joined as a special guest for the fireside chat.

“Sarah Frier has written a compelling saga about how this start-up phenomenon deeply embedded itself into the global cultural zeitgeist of this digital era, in just one decade after its creation,” said Kevin Sneader.

Top row: Sarah Frier, author of No Filter, winner of the Business Book of the Year Award and Stephen Boyle, winner of the Bracken Bower Prize for New Money. Bottom row: McKinsey global managing partner Kevin Sneader and Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf.

No Filter offers a candid close-up of Silicon Valley culture, tracing Instagram’s early days as a start-up, its acquisition by Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, and the founders’ ensuing struggle to retain the independence and integrity of their brand. In discussing her motivation in writing this book, Sarah said, “unless we understand the way these technology companies make their decisions, the trade-offs they choose, and the metrics they incentivize, if we don't understand all of this, we are being manipulated.”

The judging panel deliberated the merits of the six finalists for the £30,000 prize. In addition to Roula Khalaf, who chaired the group, this year’s judges included Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla; Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz; Herminia Ibarra, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School; Randall Kroszner, professor of economics at University of Chicago Booth School of Business; Dambisa Moyo, global economist, author, and nonexecutive board member of 3M Company, Chevron, and Condé Nast; Shriti Vadera, chair-elect of Prudential; and Raju Narisetti, leader, Global Publishing, McKinsey.

No Filter is a topical and well-reported account of the rise of Instagram and its takeover by Facebook. But it also tackles two vital issues of our age: how Big Tech treats smaller rivals and how social media companies are shaping the lives of a new generation,” said Roula Khalaf.

The Bracken Bower Prize for the best business book proposal in 2020 by an author under 35 was also awarded today. Stephen Boyle, head of data design at Lloyds Banking Group, won the prize for New Money. The proposal outlines the story of Libra, a new digital currency that promised to upend the world of money as we know it, and its swift, sound defeat by the global banking system it threatened.

This marked the 16th year of the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Given annually to the book that provides “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues,” the prize has shortlisted 94 books since 2005 that comprise a thorough overview of business in a tumultuous era.

2020 Business Book of the Year Shortlist

2020 book
2020 book

Each of this year’s other Shortlisted authors will receive £10,000. They include:

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

Never miss a story

Stay updated about McKinsey news as it happens