It has been a dramatic 24 hours for Snapchat, which had some internal emails leaked last night via the Sony hack. Sony Entertainment’s CEO, Michael Lynton, sits on Snapchat’s board.
There’s been dozens of articles about all the information surfaced, reported on (mostly) by Business Insider. Some of the details were legitimate product news, others provided a glimpse into the mind of its 24-year-old CEO Evan Spiegel. Snapchat has historically been a private company and done little media outreach. So the document dump is one of the more comprehensive looks at its vision.
In a statement released today, Spiegel said he was “devastated” by the privacy violation and felt like he was “going to cry all morning.” He explained that he believes keeping secrets, although difficult, is key for a company’s development so it can “work free from judgment” and “feel safe in our expression and creativity.”
To give you the quick rundown on all the news, we put together this list of everything you need to know about the Snapchat leaks. Most of it is not hugely groundbreaking, but there’s definitely some compelling nuggets for those following the social media company and its meteoric rise.
1) It looks like Snapchat acquired a company called Vergence Labs for $15 million, which makes eyeglass frames akin to Google Glass that can record and store video. It’s not clear why Snapchat wanted it.
2) Snapchat bought an iBeacon/QR code company called Scan.Me for $50 million. Another confusing, currently inexplicable purchase. (This news came from TechCrunch)
2) Snapchat paid $30 million for video tech startup AddLive. The deal had previously been reported, but not the sum Snapchat paid.
2) Facebook may have bid even more than $3 billion for Snapchat based on emails between author Malcolm Gladwell and Lynton. Gladwell asked if the company was crazy and Lynton responded, “If you knew the real number you would book us all a suite at Bellvue.” Other messages suggest that Mark Zuckerberg believed Evan Spiegel was behind the leak of the news, and he wasn’t happy about it.
3) Snapchat considered starting a music label this past summer. Emails showed that Spiegel wants to use Snapchat to promote musicians from a Snapchat-run label. But after Snapchat’s partnership plans with Vevo fell apart (because Snapchat wanted too high an advertising revenue cut), the plan stalled.
3) Evan Spiegel seems to have insulted Tencent by asking to take $40 million personally through a secondary offering and not informing board member Mitch Lasky from Benchmark. “They didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know what was happening … part of what gives them comfort at the high valuations is knowing that someone they trust — me — is fully engaged on the board,” Lasky said in an email to Lynton. Tencent also wasn’t pleased with the $4 billion valuation Spiegel was aiming for. The Chinese internet company appears to have passed on a followup funding deal because of that.
1) Various VCs expressed excitement over Snapchat because it’s seeing high, passionate engagement from its users. “I am not overstating it when I say that Snapchat’s utility requires hours of your time a day,”Jerry Murdock from Insight Venture Partners told Lynton. “Snapchat’s stickiness is very real.” In an email, Spiegel explained that he doesn’t think the app’s advantage is teens or its threat to Facebook — it’s the fact that it has pioneered a new form of messaging.
2) After Evan Spiegel gave a public speech, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo emailed Lynton singing his praises. He said, “I really think [Spiegel] is one of the best product thinkers out there right now.”
3) Despite the fact that Spiegel is stereotypically seen as a reckless bro who lucked into running such a successful company (see: his sexist college frat emails), his emails suggest otherwise. In one message to Lynton, he penned a comprehensive, dense analysis of market dynamics to explain why he thought Snapchat should stop fundraising and start building revenue streams. Other emails showed that Spiegel was reaching out to category experts (like the now Twitter CFO Anthony Noto) for further education.
And now you’re caught up! This is a living document, and as more Sony leaks emerge we’ll continue to update with relevant Snapchat information.