An email from Jerry Murdock, co-founder of venture investing firm Insight Venture Partners, to Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel has leaked as part of the Sony hacking.
Murdock’s email offers a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at why investors are so excited about Snapchat. It also offers a rare look at a VC trash-talking Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“I am happy to hear that Zuck came back and you wisely turned him down again!,” says Murdock to Spiegel. “Ha that must have been painful for him! He is too cheap to really pay up for the thing that is killing his core.”
Reminder: Zuckerberg offered over $US3 billion to buy Snapchat. He paid $US19 billion for WhatsApp. He paid $US2 billion for Oculus. Say what you will about Zuckerberg, but cheap doesn’t generally apply.
Murdock continues, “I have been in Europe bike touring for the last month but everywhere I go I do a little research into what kids are doing in the app world. And frankly the ones that have the Snapchat addiction have no room for anything else. Snaps dominate their life.”
Neither Murdock nor Insight Venture Partners have been publicly announced as investors. But he seems to be friendly with Spiegel, and could be an investor through other indirect avenues, like being a limited partner in a investment fund.
Murdock also seems to think that Snapchat is going to cream WhatsApp. From his email (with his typos): “Snapchat’s stickiness is very real and I think they will kill off ‘what’s app’ and SMS or they will die a slow death by being relegated to a category of ‘who cares’ apps.”
The email is from November of 2013. It’s worth a read. At the top is a short note to Spiegel, then he has a longer message that he wrote to someone else which he forwarded to Spiegel. All typos are his:
Evan, it’s been a few months since we spoke last summer it seems like years since we had the 4th of July BBQ at Snapchat world headquarters. I see in the press that you have been busy! Also I am happy to hear that Zuck came back and you wisely turned him down again! Ha that must have been painful for him! He is too cheap to really pay up for the thing that is killing his core.
I have been in Europe bike touring for the last month but everywhere I go I do a little research into what kids are doing in the app world. And frankly the ones that have the Snapchat addiction have no room for anything else. Snaps dominate their life. I shared my thoughts with my co-founder last night and woke up thinking that this may be helpful to you since you are probably not hanging out in Europe very much. So my thoughts are below..
Jeff, what I have learned from being here in Europe is that Snapchat now deeply in the process of owning England and is spreading like wildfire on the continent albeit in a spotty way.
Kids still use “What’s app” cause everyone is on the app but no one cares much about features as their passion is snapchat.
Snapchat’s biggest hurdle is that the learning curve still requires a little effort but that is overcome by the need/desire to connect with everyone else in their circle and especially the opposite sex.
If it’s not the surprise effect of snaps, then it might be snapchats utility for private one to one very expressive moments that makes Snapchat so powerful.
The engagement is crazy and sustained flirting in subtle and not so subtle ways are crazy intense on that app. I think Sanpchat often starts out when I user is invited in or through word of mouth, then signs up to connect with a specific person or persons and then it morphs into not just get connected but freedom of expression with those people that you really want to have in your life ( for the moment) , SMS and what’s app are used as an adjunct utilities, but hearts and minds are into snapchat. Kids are willing to put the time in because you feel you can truly share the moment whether you are just getting out of the shower, putting on pajamas or sharing discovery of something cool.
All it takes is for Evan and Bobby not to screw it up and to carefully add only the most highly valued new features. If I were them I would hold off on monetization until Europe is locked down. Lucky for Snapchat that England is the home of Europe’s best boarding schools. Kids from the rest of the world here about snapchat from a friend that is in an English boarding school.
The feature that I would add soon is for the ability of a user to have a second option of allowing “Senders of snaps” to give receivers additional time viewing or sharing their snaps. In that way, what must remain ephemeral is not lost and trust is maintained between the community and the company. This will also help improve content creation and time spent on the app will surge beyond crazy.
Twitter only gets traction when a kid wants to connect with a celebrity or follow a topic related passion like football/soccer/DJ’s etc. But once a kid is engaged on Snapchat it sucks up all their time and there is very little room to engage with a second app. I am not overstating it when I say that Snapchat’s utility requires hours of your time a day. Kids get dozens of snaps during peak chat times. If you are on the app it’s how you communicate with all your “friends”.Snapchat’s stickiness is very real and I think they will kill off “what’s app” and SMS or they will die a slow death by being relegated to a category of “who cares” apps.
What’s app in particular seems to survive only because so many kids are already on the app so it gets some traffic, but no one cares about it as that type of messaging is meaningless to kids.
The question is when do grow ups get sucked into snapchat addiction? It may take time but not sure it matte