Snap Inc. chief Evan Spiegel launched a stinging critique of Facebook Inc., dismissing both its appeal and its successful attempts to copy Snapchat’s most popular features.
Spiegel aimed a series of barbs against his larger adversary at the Code Conference Tuesday — moments before Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg took the stage. Spiegel, a co-founder of the Snapchat application for sending ephemeral messages and videos, made the case for his company’s longevity.
Snap “has a mission that runs counter to traditional social media,” he told the conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Facebook’s copycatting “bothers my wife more than it bothers me.”
Snap invented Snapchat “stories,” through which people post videos of what happens during their day, as it happens. Those videos last for 24 hours. In response, Facebook has built a similar product for all of its applications from Instagram to WhatsApp, some of which now have far more users than Snap does. Analysts have pointed to Facebook’s success as a potential hindrance to Snap’s growth — mostly because people won’t see the need to sign up for Snapchat if they can do the same thing somewhere else.
“At Snapchat it’s all about building deeper relationships with the people that you’re close to,” he said. At Facebook, “they are having trouble changing the DNA of their company, which is all about people competing with each other for attention.”
The CEO implied that the Facebook copycatting was the least of his worries. Since taking his company public in March of last year, Spiegel has endured frequent executive turnover, issues with employee morale and a backlash from a redesign of its core application, which he says was unexpectedly disruptive.
“If you can create something that is so beautiful and simple that the only thing other people can do is copy it exactly, that is the most fantastic feeling,” he said. “It is the most fantastic thing in the entire world.”