Founded by Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown in 2011, Snapchat was originally launched as an app called Picaboo. The concept of sending and receiving photos that could not be saved came to Spiegel as a project in his product design class while attending Stanford University in April of 2011. Not having the ability to code the project themselves, Brown and Spiegel incorporated the assistance of Bobby Murphey to code the original version of the application. Reggie Brown left the Snapchat team in August of 2011 due to a falling out between himself and the other co-founders.
The fundamental feature Snapchat marketed itself as having was the ability to take a picture, send it, and not worry about having it be in the possession of the receiver. Snapchat requires a finger to remain on the screen of a smart device in order to view the picture, making the act of capturing a screenshot very difficult, albeit not impossible by some clever users. For this reason, users are able to set the max amount of time their images can be viewed for.
Snapchat was not only receiving a lot of positive press, but also a lot of negative publicity. Accused of allowing underage individuals to send sexually explicit material between one another, the app was often a source of media targeting. The major concern was that the large majority of users of the Snapchat service were individuals between the ages of 13 and 23. Since the program was marketed for its ease of use and ability to send pictures of users, growing worries surrounded children using it to ‘sext’ each other.
By the end of 2012, over 20 million photos were being shared by Snapchat users every single day. The popularity of the application proved to be a challenge for the young entrepreneurs because of the difficulty they had in providing a stable and reliable platform for users during periods of heavy usage. Problems with the Snapchat app included slow delivery times as well as lost images.
To scale up the platform to handle the influx of new users, Snapchat raised over $60 million dollars in venture capitalist funding during 2013. By October 23, 2013 the company was valued at nearly $4 billion dollars. During this time, Reggie Brown sued Snapchat, claiming he was a co-founder and the brains behind the platform, the name, and the logo. The lawsuit was settled in late 2014 for an undisclosed amount and Brown was credited as a creator of Snapchat.
Snapchat has continue to grow as a social platform and as a company since its humble beginnings as a Stanford University final project. The founders of Snapchat have turned down several billion dollars from both Google, Facebook, and other tech companies that have been interested in acquiring it. As of 2014, Snapchat has been speculated by many analysts as being worth nearly $10 billion dollars. As the app sensation continues to grow, the future for Snapchat continues to look brighter. It doesn’t appear the service will be going anywhere anytime soon.