Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Evan Spiegel.Maybe that third name hasn't earned the right yet to be uttered in the same breath as the other two icons. But Snapchat's CEO is making a case for himself one innovation at a time, and his latest one is a true doozy.Last week's surprise launch of Spectacles, a $130 set of sunglasses going to market shortly boasting the capability of capturing and sharing video, brings to mind the kind of audacity and ambition that...
Not since Steve Jobs has the tech world been graced with an executive who has such a keen eye for product development. That Spiegel is just 27 years old makes his feats at Snap all the more remarkable.
Launched as an iOS-only app dubbed Picaboo from Spiegel’s living room in 2011, Snapchat has constantly evolved under his leadership. It hooked millennial and Gen Z users with photos and text that disappear after 24 hours, then kept them interested with new features, including ad-supported short-form content from media partners including BuzzFeed, CNN, ESPN and Vice.
In 2016, Snapchat hit 10 billion daily video views and raised $1.81 billion in an equity offering. But perhaps the greatest endorsement of Siegel’s vision has been the way the the app has been imitated by social media rivals such as Facebook and Instagram, which have launched features imitating Snapchat’s face filters and Snapchat Stories features.
In November 2016, Spiegel move Snap farther away from its ephemeral origins with introduction of its first hardware offering, Spectacles, a $130 pair of sunglasses with built-in cameras, wi-fi and bluetooth that can record and upload 10-second video clips to Snapchat via iPhone or Android smart phones.
But 2017 has been a very challenging year for Snap. An IPO was followed by months of significant declines in stock value that have cost the company billions, and its first earnings report showcased underwhelming numbers that Spiegel was criticized for mishandling. He once had the chance to sell Snapchat to Facebook for $3 billion, a decision that could come back to haunt him considering Mark Zuckerberg’s companies are providing competitive threats Spiegel will be facing down for a long time to come.