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Tech Superhero: Evan Spiegel

There have been an uncountable number of complaints by parents, teachers and other authoritative figures regarding teenagers who have been addicted to a certain app to such an extent that it has been hampering their studies. No, it’s not Facebook, or even Instagram; it’s Snapchat: the hot new source of entertainment for teenagers and young adults. Being the only app that allows your sent picture-messages to disappear, it has brought innovation to the world of apps and a threat to its competitors in social media. The man behind this genius idea is Evan Spiegel. He is the co-founder and CEO of Snapchat and today this American internet entrepreneur is my subject of focus.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]Early Life:[/button]
Evan was born and brought up in California. On June 4th 1990, Melissa Ann Thomas and John W. Spiegel, two lawyers gave birth to the famous Mr.Spiegel. As you can tell by his birth year, he is still quite young and a lot like the other internet legends like Zuckerberg and Page, it seems that he came up with a jackpot idea before even reaching his 30s.  He attended Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica and later studied product design at Stanford University, and what a product he ended up designing! He left 3 classes before graduation in 2012 to pursue his work on Snapchat, except that at first it wasn’t called so.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]The beginning of Snapchat:[/button]
You know, as I go on I seem to find more and more similarities between Mark Zuckerberg’s and Speigel’s story. ‘Picaboo’ as it was called, was initially made for sending and receiving censored images, much like Mark’s ‘Facemash’ made to compare ‘hot girls’. I suppose it’s expected of a 21 year old who thought he was too cool for school. But soon that idea developed into something much greater, way beyond the mind sets of a bunch of wild college kids. The idea occurred to him when a friend of his sent a photo that he ended up regretting and wishing he could take back. In that situation, they did a bit of research to find out if there was anything out there that could use to delete sent messages or photos. That’s when he realized that there was noticeable gap in the internet world where deleting a sent item is near impossible. So, he and Bobby Murphy, who by the way is the current CTO and co-founder of Snapchat, came up with a prototype that would allow pictures to disappear. It turned out to be very amusing to use, and the majority of the excitement came from the fact that what you see is only temporary.
Murphy and Spiegel were frat brothers at Kappa Sigma along with Frank Brown who claims that he had a part in the creation of this idea and therefore sued them based on that.

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But for this app to grow into what Evan dreamt, he’d need serious investors ready to power it with heavy funding. Till then Bobby and Evan’s dad, who he lives with, has been financing this project.
Barry Eggers who worked at Lightspeed Ventures had a daughter who spread word in her high school that three of her favorite apps were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. Eggers and one of his partners Jeremy Liew had never heard of Snapchat and felt like they had to find out more about it. So, Liew sent Speigel a message asking him to meet up which he did and after showing Liew some early data, he was convinced. Evan says that he was very lucky to have come across Liew because at that point server bills went through the roof.

Anyway, you should know that Spiegel had to struggle a lot to get people to use this app in the first place. He used to stand on the (Santa Monica) promenade and go up to people individually asking them to try the new application where they can send disappearing photos. In reply, most of them would get the impression that the app was made for the wrong reasons like exchanging explicit pictures. It occurred to Evan that clearly he wasn’t explaining the concept as well as it should be explained. He struggled to break that impression. Gladly, today, the reach that this app has achieved has proved that people understand that there’s a lot more to it.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]Snapchat and Spiegel today:[/button]
Now, Snapchat is valued at $4 billion and despite many acquisition offers it has received, like the $3 billion offer by Facebook, Spiegal has decided to keep the company under no one but him. It seems like today, Spiegel, the 23 year old CEO of a billion dollar company is starting to compose himself. Given his ‘wild’ past, scandalous controversies about the rejection letter he sent to Zuckerberg and even the lawsuits filed by Brown, have all been reasons for Evan to grow stronger as a person.  He always said that he looks up to Google and Tencent, which shows his penchant for going big and staying that way. Keeping his struggles in mind he has said, “I’d like to create a space for people who have a lot of talent but not a lot of reach.”

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