Evan Spiegel is a cocky frat-star who got lucky when he created an app to receive naked pictures.
This is the public perception of the Snapchat Chief Executive and it looks like it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Numerous leaked emails from Michael Lynton, Sony Entertainment CEO and Snapchat board member, reveal a side of Spiegel that has previously been hidden behind closed doors.
After reading through the emails, it quickly becomes obvious that Spiegel has matured into a thoughtful, strategic leader who has a deep understanding of his business and the larger industry. He appears to be a bold, forward thinker who is interested in creating a valuable service with long-term sustainability. It is impressive to see considering how much the media has scrutinized the 24 year old.
For example, Spiegel shows strong conviction in the Snapchat monetization strategy in an email to Mitch Lasky, another board member:
You’ve seen the data – we have high engagement and high retention product with tremendous growth ahead of us. Monetizing the business now only makes a stronger case for the permanence of our product. I think most important thing I want to communicate to you is that this is not an emotional decision and is not about “proving it” – this business needs to make money. The argument of grow now, monetize later doesn’t make sense because we have reached abnormal levels of growth and our monetization product is value-added. I’d rather not burn another $100mm of OPM before we find out whether or not we have a business. If we can build profitable biz w Twitter-scale, 30-person headcount, and major growth ahead we are not going to have a problem attracting additional capital. (This does not preclude necessity of building a much larger team).
Not exactly what you would expect from a clueless bro, huh? The saying “never judge a book by it’s cover” seems to be fitting here.
I expect Evan Spiegel to be taken much more seriously going forward. These emails show that the one-time fraternity social chair has matured and evolved. It will be exciting to see how his continued growth impacts Snapchat’s success in the coming years.