Dozens of social media platforms have come and gone over the years, and there’s no doubt that Snapchat is currently one of the most popular. There’s plenty of reasons: It’s fast and easy to use, but also private; perfect for selfies, but also useful for keeping up with the news; and you’re able to follow celebrities, but also see what friends are viewing your content.
Snapchat is very much of its time. It is exclusively mobile-based, which even a few years ago would have seemed a disadvantage, meaning even Facebook and Twitter seem comparatively old. Likewise, whether it is a fad or not, Snapchat certainly has all the intensity of a fad. It is constantly changing and reinventing itself. As a result, it has even arrived at South West College (swccollege). So what’s the story of this App which continues to grow in popularity for both businesses and the public, and how does it manage to represent so much of what the world is in 2016?
Snapchat was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown when they were students at Stanford University. It originally existed as a class project based on Brown’s notion of disappearing images, which Spiegel speculated was a ‘million dollar idea’. After Murphy was brought in to help write the source code, they launched a version of the App called ‘Picaboo’ from Spiegel’s living room in July 2011. By the end of the summer it only had 127 users and fallouts began; Brown and Spiegel got in an argument over things like the order of names on the patent and equality splits, and things resulted in Brown being exiled from the company, and Spiegel and Murphy changing the name to Snapchat.
It was then that popularity quickly grew. With temporary pictures, Snapchat offered an alternative to the worrying ‘what happens on the internet stays on the internet’ society, and there were 100,000 users by April of 2012. With server bills growing expensive, Jeremy Liew stepped in and invested almost half a million dollars, a figure which meant Spiegel dropped out of Stanford weeks before graduating. Soon Snapchat launched on android and introduced videos, and by February of 2013 there were over 60 million snaps sent every day.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Reggie Brown decided to file a lawsuit against the company. After all, by May stats were up to 150 million snaps per day, big brands were starting to get involved, and deals were being done that saw Spiegel and Murphy take home ten million dollars each. The lawsuit brought up text messages showing Spiegel admit that Brown came up with the idea of disappearing messages, but it wasn’t the only big development: Snapchat Stories came along; Mark Zucherberg offered $3 Billion for the company, an offer that was refused.
As the lawsuit continued more evidence seemed to confirm that it was Brown, not the co-founders who came up with the idea for Ssnapchat. Still, they were intent on moving forward, and challenged Instagram with the introduction of filters, timestamps and speed overlays, and the ability to replay snaps. The lawsuit wasn’t Snap Chat’s only public problem. They had to negotiate something of a scandal after they initially refused to apologise after a malicious attack exposed the username and phone numbers of over 4.6 million users. Still, new features continued to come along: text conversations were added alongside video chat, Our Story and Geofilters, which eventually brought along a valuation of $10 Billion.
The lawsuit with Brown was eventually settled, and new features have continued, with the introduction of Discover, facial recognition and memories. Whether a continuing fad, or something that will be around for years to come, it continues to capture and mirror the world around us. Follow South West College on Snapchat (swccollege) to get a different look at South West College!