Education: (Dropped Out), Product Design
College: Stanford University
Previous Career: None
2. Origin Story
Evan Spiegel's childhood was luxurious, as both his parents were wealthy lawyers. He eventually got into Stanford to study Product Design, and it was here that Spiegel met his eventual co-founder Bobby Murphy in 2009. At the time, Evan Spiegel was a freshman and Murphy was a junior studying Math and Computational Science. Their first side project was a site that aimed to improve the way high school students applied to college, but it failed to get traction. While working on it, they had come to realise that they made a good team.
In April 2011, Evan Spiegel and Bob Murphy decided to build an app in the not-yet-lucrative world of mobile photo sharing. The original idea for it, though, was from Reggie Brown, Spiegel's fraternity mate. Since most of the photo apps at the time were advertising ways to make photos prettier or more stylized, they realised the need to do something different. "We wanted a place to share awkward selfies and funny photos with our friends." Spiegel writes, in his first blog post about how Snapchat was founded.
Spiegel and his small team quickly got the first prototype up and running, and continued to develop it throughout the following summer. In July 2011, they launched the app as Picaboo on the AppStore. It didn't do so well initially, and they found out why: they realised that screenshots could be taken by other users, defeating the app's main purpose. Hence, they built a notification to make users aware if someone took a screenshot of their disappearing photo.
They then rebranded as Snapchat and re-launched in September 2011. To get a better sense of how people were using the app and to make it better, Evan Spiegel reached out to some of their users and found that most of the users were high school students. Hence, Spiegel made Snapchat focus on the app's technological innovations more than branding and marketing to make the experience more organic and 'cool'. In October 2012, Snapchat for Android was launched. Within a year, they had gone viral. By December, Snapchat users were sending 50 million snaps a day.
3. Other interesting points
- In 2015, Evan Spiegel (25 years old at the time) became the world's youngest self-made billionaire.
- Evan Spiegel's childhood was luxurious, as both his parents were wealthy lawyers.
- When Snapchat started, Spiegel was terrified that other people in the tech sector would try to steal his ideas for the company. In fact, he was so afraid of this, that when the company ran out of money, he preferred to max out his credit cards instead of speaking to angel investors.
- With Snapchat taking off, Evan Spiegel and his co-founder Bob Murphy are using their wealth to help the world. The duo pledged to donate up to 13,000,000 shares of Class A common stock over the next 15 to 20 years. This could potentially result in hundreds of millions of dollars, with the funds going directly to programs for the arts, education, and youth non-profit.
"It would be better for everyone if we deleted everything by default and saved the things that are important to us." - Evan Spiegel