The young Stanford students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy founded Snapchat in 2011 as part of a project at the university famous for startup sensations. Major tech giants Yahoo and Google were both born at Stanford, and the school now attracts hundreds of ambitious entrepreneurs every year. The young company, which uses software to send photos that get deleted after ten seconds or fewer of viewing, already processes 200 million photo uploads and automatic deletions every day. The popularity of the application is attracted major investments, including the most recent round, which raised $60 million for Spiegel and Murphy to hire engineers, pay for infrastructure and expand the service.
Spiegel, at the ripe age of 22, explains that he thinks Snapchat attracts users that don’t want to take the time to set up a picture that all your friends on Facebook might scrutinize. Snapchat’s main message is to actually communicate with pictures and live in the moment. His reasoning for the quick deletion comes from the idea that human communication is ephemeral. People don’t spend time thinking about everything they say when they are with their friends, so Snapchat matches sending pictures with the style of natural speaking and communicating. The company handles the massive user base with only about a dozen staff members, and Spiegel says the experience has been “insanely fun”.
While the service has been known to be popular with teenagers, it is also trending with professionals, in particular Wall Street bankers, possibly in anticipation for the monetization of a business that has been valued at $800 million. Many college students also use it, although Snapchat’s core customer base cannot be measured for sure, since the company does not keep any metrics. In the age of privacy fears from Facebook or the NSA, Snapchat assures any information about you is deleted, which is likely comforting to anyone nervous about potential spouses or employers finding less than attractive content about them online.