Snapchat

Evan Spiegel, Snapchat CEO and co-founder, talks about his experiences at Snapchat in the SAC on Tuesday evening.
Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

When looking to assemble a team for a startup, Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat, found it crucial to find people with a variety of viewpoints who are willing to stand by their convictions. 

“When you’re with a ton of really smart people with a ton of different points of view, it’s really important that you believe that you’re correct and fight for your ideas,” Spiegel said in an on-campus talk Tuesday. “Otherwise they sort of get lost in that intensity.”

Snapchat — a communication application valued at $19 billion dollars, according to Bloomberg — is the sixth-most downloaded free app in the iTunes App Store.

Spiegel said his company values hard work, creativity and kindness the most when looking for people to add to their team. Spiegel’s advice for entrepreneurs who want to start a business: Find great mentors and not put off ideas.

One of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur is the ability to listen more than you speak, Spiegel said.

“The way I can tell someone is going to succeed when I meet young people is the guy who is silent in the meeting is always the genius — like, every time,” Spiegel said.

Interested in creating his own startups, computer engineering sophomore Sean Gajjar said Spiegel taught him the first steps to take with a startup and the importance of hiring the right people early on. 

The idea of Snapchat is appealing because it is quick and user-friendly yet entertaining, Gajjar said.

“It’s true that social media is becoming a chore — people have to go through a certain process to go and check their Twitter and find out what’s happening,” Gajjar said. “I think our generation looks for things that are kind of ‘snappy.’ We don’t like to wait for things.” 

Snapchat’s original concept was simple, according to Spiegel, who said he just wanted an app that could send pictures and make them disappear. Jeff Linwood, lecturer of a mobile app development class, said he hopes Spiegel will inspire students to follow even the simplest of ideas. 

“Executing well on simple ideas can lead to amazing opportunities — whether it’s running a billion-dollar company or getting millions of users,” Linwood said. “With simple ideas, you need less time, less money and less effort to convince new users to try your product.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Evan Spiegel, the 23-year-old CEO of Snapchat, just made news for turning down a $3 billion offer for his company. Last week, the company reportedly rejected Facebook’s offer to purchase the two-year-old startup for $3 billion in cash. According to reports, Google also offered somewhere around $4 billion for the social messaging app. 

Snapchat has come a long way from being the app that people use to send naughty pictures. It’s now a desirable company for many suitors. 

For Google, whose social network Google+ has struggled to gain momentum, moves to scoop up popular social networks could be the catalyst that grows the rest of its platform. For Facebook, the motivation is clear — the Menlo Park tech giant needs to make a move to court younger teens who, the company admitted last month, are leaving Facebook in droves. It turns out they’re leaving for apps like Snapchat, where it’s more difficult for their parents to see what they’re up to.

Snapchat has staggering numbers. According to Spiegel, the app delivers 400 million snaps every day, up from just 200 million in July. For comparison, a mere 350 million photos are shared daily on Facebook and a lowly 55 million on Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion just over a year ago. All things considered, the number that makes the company’s astronomical valuation somewhat surprising is zero — the amount of revenue Snapchat has generated in its two-year history. Investors are betting that people will still find Snapchat fun and cool when it begins its journey toward monetization, which history would indicate is far from a given. 

Snapchat should look to monetize carefully. The obscene growth Snapchat is experiencing is difficult to sustain, difficult to predict and — most importantly — difficult to ignore. But it is not unprecedented. Snapchat is not the first tech company to turn its nose up at big-time offers from larger companies. The most obvious is Groupon, which turned down a $6 billion takeover bid from Google in 2010. Groupon’s large super-active user base ultimately fizzled. Tech companies are subject to the whims of fads, and many argue that Snapchat’s mostly teenage clientele make it even more susceptible to this possibility.

Bubbles are a part of any industry, but because of the rapid growth technology lends itself to, it also, more frequently, sets itself up for these bubbles. Between Twitter’s wildly successful IPO, Bitcoin’s insane rise and rapid falls and the feverish pursuit of apps like Snapchat, it may be time for those in the tech community to take a step back and ask if this growth is truly sustainable.