For last few days, it has been all Snapchat, all the time. Following on the heels of the privacy breach at the ephemeral-moment sharing service, it seems everyone has an opinion about the company and it’s not-so-media-savvy co-founder and chief executive, Evan Spiegel. Some have said off with his head — aka he needs to go as CEO.
David Kirkpatrick, creator of Technology and the author of The Facebook Effect even went on to say that Evan has no vision (say compared to Mark Zuckerberg) and that Snapchat could end up like Myspace. Today, Forbes published a cover story with who else, but Evan on the cover. And even that has resulted in more controversy — apparently today we are mocking Evan for being arrogant and frat-boy like in his emails to Zuckerberg.
Have we forgotten that Zuckerberg showed up late at Sequoia Capital’s offices in pajamas. Have we forgotten that at one point all Facebook was a “way to look up one’s friends on the college campus” and the so called vision was no-where in sight. Remember how long it took Facebook to say sorry for unleashing Beacon? Remember Zuck’s business card — I’m the CEO b****h. Compare that to the Zuckerberg of today — polished and smooth and running a mega-billion dollar company like a pro.
To me what all this drama says two things: first, boys will be boys, especially 22-year-old kids from a privileged background. Secondly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t all plan of an elaborate act — to get a lot of publicity and attention. Evan seems like a pretty deliberate guy — and all these moves look quite calculated.
That said, it doesn’t matter how you feel about Evan or Snapchat, the reality is that his constituency — very young people who are the core audience of Snapchat don’t seem to care about the privacy breach. The PR disasters that are happening are only putting more attention on the company — and are easily fixable with some good counsel.
Of course, now would also be a good time for company to hire their own “Sheryl Sandberg” and/or “Matt Cohler” type executives to help navigate the awkward growth phase of the company. And those who want Evan to be removed from the CEO job need to remember — founders are vital for long term success of a startup.