The Snapchat Drama

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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.


  1. Diana Furka (@dianafurka) says:

    January 8th, 2014 at 2:07 pm Reply

    Props for trotting out that 2005 (is that correct?) FB video.

    1. Om Malik says:

      January 8th, 2014 at 3:11 pm Reply

      Yes Diana, it is that old :-)

  2. Code Yap (@CodeYap) says:

    January 7th, 2014 at 5:19 pm Reply

    Quixotic. Know that word?
    Snapchat seems to be disappearing as fast as it appeared.
    Have you ever signed up for SnapChat? I opened up about 10 accounts in 3 minutes.
    Have you ever sent a snapchat? I sent 5000 ‘snaps’ machine gun style in about 2 hours.
    The numbers oh wise one are highly questionable.

    1. Code Yap (@CodeYap) says:

      January 7th, 2014 at 5:22 pm Reply

      If i can open up 10 accounts in 3 minutes.
      send 5000 snaps in 2 hours. What is the actual worth of something so “Ephemeral”?
      Especially when it can be duplicated very quickly. Timed disappearances are not exactly rocket science. So far as ephemeral goes? Pretty damned easy to take a screenshot. Not seeing the value here in tinker toys. This is a useless product, as temporary as its nature. Bernie Madoff might as well run for its CEO. I’m not seeming much value here in Tulips.

  3. eideard says:

    January 7th, 2014 at 4:24 am Reply

    Watched you with Emily, live, Om. You’re becoming a statesman. And handle it well.

  4. Joe Rossignol (@rsgnl) says:

    January 6th, 2014 at 11:29 pm Reply

    Not only does the target demographic of Snapchat not care about the recent drama, most don’t even know about it in the first place.

  5. kyasimarketing says:

    January 6th, 2014 at 9:34 pm Reply

    Well said – in particular the point about founders helping maintain the DNA of a company over the long haul.

  6. Ouriel Ohayon says:

    January 6th, 2014 at 9:28 pm Reply

    smart thoughts.

  7. tnd2186 says:

    January 6th, 2014 at 7:30 pm Reply

    I´m agree with you, Om. I think that this just have generated free PR for Evan and his team at Snapchat. Just a little advice for him: they need to be wiser to make a public statement like Marissa for example with their recent problems with Yahoo! Mail:

    Best wishes.

  8. Nikohl Vandel says:

    January 6th, 2014 at 6:24 pm Reply

    people and short memories. but when do the boys become men?

    1. Om Malik says:

      January 6th, 2014 at 6:24 pm Reply

      Never. They always stay boys

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