You may not know the names of these two California frat brothers, but you know the name of their company.
Snapchat is the photo-sharing app that has stormed its way onto teenagers’ phones everywhere, and an estimated 700 million snaps are now sent every day. How did Spiegel and Murphy make this happen?
At the heart of Snapchat is a reversal of the photo-sharing model we’ve become used to over the last decade. Delete is the new default – unless you’re quick with your fingers and screenshot your snaps, they disappear forever.
While Bobby Murphy is a Stanford maths and computer science graduate, the more public face of the company is a Stanford nearly-graduate who dropped out with three classes to go.
Evan Spiegel didn’t need those extra classes. Snapchat is enjoying huge increases in revenue, users and even employees – a sign that the company is evolving from a startup pretender into a major player. It even attracted a $3billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year, which Spiegel and Murphy rejected.
This was either remarkably confident or catastrophically stupid depending on who you listen to. For a company that still only employs around 50 people, the Facebook deal must have been tantalizing, and turning away from it was a bold move.
The small size of Snapchat, as well as successful Facebook acquisitions Whatsapp and Instagram, shows how lucrative a simple idea can be. With just a handful of staff these companies have built huge user bases and made a fortune in the process.
Snapchat is still on the up – for now. The company has been challenged over its security policy and weathered a strong rivalry with Facebook, but now that rivalry looks set to reignite. With recent reports suggesting that a photo messaging app from Facebook is on its way, could Snapchat be facing its biggest hurdle yet?
New features have helped Snapchat keep users interested and persuade brands to use the app to reach customers. The new chat capability combines text and video messaging to form a kind of Whatsapp/FaceTime mash up, and Snapchat stories allow users to broadcast messages to all their followers.
Through all these developments, Snapchat has managed to maintain its identity by sticking to its original idea – everything deletes unless it’s important enough to keep.
This concept kicks against the traditional method of content consumption, which overwhelms audiences with stuff and leaves them to get rid of whatever they don’t want. Snapchat brings you snippets of information and cleans up after itself.
When you consider the major shift in thinking this represents, it’s less of a surprise that Snapchatters send 700 million messages everyday – and counting.