Snapchat, a disappearing photo app that has more photos shared on it daily than Instagram, is in the middle of a lawsuit.
It sounds a lot like the Winklevoss-Zuckerberg situation. Three friends from college (in this case it’s Stanford, not Harvard), brainstormed a startup together.
But unlike the Winklevoss case, it’s two founders against one. Frank “Reggie” Brown says he was unfairly ousted after co-founding Snapchat (then called Picaboo) in 2011 with Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy. Spiegel is currently CEO, Murphy is currently CTO. Also unlike the Winklevoss situation, it seems like Brown did much more than just come up with an idea. According to his filing, “From spring of 2011 and into the summer, [Brown] and Spiegel and Murphy lived, worked, developed and launched the Application together.”
Brown is after one-third ownership of Snapchat, a company investors just valued at $800 million pre-money. Brown also just watched his two alleged co-founders, Spiegel and Murphy, pocket $10 million each alongside the fundraise.
Brown filed the lawsuit in February and recently filed a motion against the law firm representing Spiegel and Murphy.
So far, only Brown’s side of the story has leaked but his case looks strong.
For example, there’s a text from Spiegel to Brown that says Brown came up with the idea for Snapchat. And the initial Crunchbase entry, a site where tech startups list their executives and investors, initially mentioned Brown. Similarly, on one of Snapchat’s initial patent filings, all three names are listed.
Then there’s the photo of Spiegel, Brown and Murphy together surrounding a birthday cake with Snapchat’s logo on it to suggest the launch of the app.
But there are two Exhibits in Brown’s motion that will be particularly hard for Spiegel and Murphy to combat.
One is an alleged text from Spiegel’s father to Brown’s mother.
Another is the signature of an email allegedly sent by Murphy.
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