At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on September 9, 2013, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that Snapchat users share an average of 350 million self-destructing messages a day. This figure is up from an average of 150 million daily photos shares in April, representing 483% growth in just over six months. Snapchat’s viral growth enabled the company to secure $60 million dollars of venture capital funding at an $800 million valuation, despite lacking any revenue streams. At the conference Even Spiegel discussed ways the company is looking to monetize and hinted at product updates to come.
Shortly after Snapchat announced that it had raised $60 million in funding in late June, the company suggested that the first phase of its monetization strategy would involve in-app transactions. Spiegel told TechCrunch that the company had already begun exploring in app-features to see what worked best: “In-app transactions will come first,” said Spiegel. “We think we can build really cool stuff people want to pay for. The app is now a part of everyone’s day-to-day lives. That means that they will — I at least would — pay for a more unique experience.”
However, at the Disrupt conference earlier this month, Spiegel said that the company’s monetization strategy had shifted more towards native advertising. Spiegel said that they way the company thinks “about monetization has changed” and hinted that the company was moving its focus away from in app purchases. Spiegel noted that the company is seriously considering adding a news feed feature that would provide for multiple advertising revenue streams. Snapchat is currently the only widely used social app that doesn’t have a news feed. TechCrunch described what a potential news feed for Snapchat would look like. The blog suggested that a good way to envision it would be to think about your instagram feed if all the photos had to be uploaded in real time and expired after a certain increment of time. Anyone could like or comment on your pictures/videos but these comments and likes would expire when the uploaded picture self-destructs. TechCrunch further suggested that comments could be restricted to pictures or videos in order to keep in line with Snapchat’s theme of visual interactions.
Spiegel also said that when it comes to advertising the company would prefer to work with smaller companies and start-ups instead of big brands and retailers: “We’re really interested in supporting those without strong marketing teams.” Spiegel remained vague when asked when the company should expect to generate revenue and stated that its difficult to say but hopefully before the next round of financing.
At the conference Spiegel also discussed wearable technology and noted that the company will “continue to explore a wide variety of products.” Snapchat recently released Snapchat Micro, an app designed specifically for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The Snapchat Micro app automatically links to the Galaxy note and after users to take a picture on their watch the image is sent to their smartphone so that they can add a caption or drawing. Spiegel said that the micro app was designed as part of the company’s strategy to constantly look “at ways to reduce the time between our experience of a moment and our ability to share it.”
Spiegel also said that the company is not working on or considering creating an app for Google glass. He suggested that Google should put a recording dot on glass so that people know when they are being recoded and said that the product, as it currently stands, is “invasive” and can feel like a “gun pointed at you.” These comments fall in line with Snapchat’s central mission of protecting users privacy.
When questioned about Facebook’s attempt to duplicate Snapchat with the Poke app, Spiegel boasted about the company’s resilience: “It’s certainly scary when a giant enters your space,” he said. “We now talk about it as the greatest Christmas present we ever got.” Data for active users on both apps has shown that Snapchat actually grew in market share from when P aoke was launched in December of 2012 to January of 2013 before leveling off in February. Spiegel also noted that while he’s talked to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the company has had “no formal acquisition offers.”