The life and career rise of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, one of the youngest billionaires in the world

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Berggruen InstituteSnap CEO Evan Spiegel.

Life is good for Evan Spiegel.

In 2017, he was given a $US800 million bonus for taking his company, Snap Inc., public at a $US33 billion valuation.

Snap’s shares have since taken quite the hit, but Spiegel’s net worth is still around $US2.7 billion, making the 28-year-old one of the youngest billionaires in the world. Spiegel also took home the title of highest-paid CEO in the world in 2017.

Things seem good at home, too: Spiegel is married to model and entrepreneur Miranda Kerr, and the couple welcomed their first child – a baby boy named Hart – earlier this year.

To get a better picture of how Evan Spiegel got to where he is, we’ve pulled the highlights from profiles by LA Weekly,Forbes,Business Insider, court documents, and more.

Here’s how Spiegel got his start and became one of the youngest billionaires in the world.

Alex Heath contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Spiegel grew up in the Pacific Palisades, a ritzy Los Angeles enclave just east of Malibu. He is the older son of two Ivy League-educated lawyers. His parents divorced when he was in high school.


When Spiegel turned 16 and got his driver’s licence, he was given a Cadillac Escalade, which he parked in the gated Southern California Edison parking lot next to his school. Spiegel’s father represented Edison during the energy crisis.


Source: LA Weekly

Spiegel spent his early years at an ultra-exclusive school called Crossroads in Santa Monica, which costs tens of thousands per academic year. Other notable alumni include Tinder cofounder Sean Rad, Kate Hudson, Jonah Hill, Jack Black, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Around the time that he landed a marketing internship with Red Bull, Spiegel decided that he wanted a more fuel-efficient car to drive around the city in. In a letter from 2008, Spiegel asked his parents to lease him a BMW 550i, which retails for about $US75,000. “Cars bring me sheer joy,” he wrote. “I would really appreciate you validating me and all of my hard work by leasing the BMW.”

The Spiegels were members of a number of exclusive clubs, including the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. They often went on trips to Europe, employed a full-time housekeeper, and even went snowboarding by helicopter in Canada. “We live in a bubble,” Evan wrote in the letter asking for the BMW.


Source: LA Weekly

Spiegel went on to study product design at Stanford (his father’s alma mater), where he met future Snapchat cofounders Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy.

LA County Superior CourtFrom left to right: Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy, and Evan Spiegel

“We weren’t cool,” Murphy later told Forbes, “so we tried to build things to be cool.”

SnapchatAn early photo of Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.

Source: Forbes

The three were members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Spiegel was social chair, and judging from leaked emails, he was quite the partier.

TwitterSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

In 2014, emails from Spiegel’s days at Stanford were leaked. In expletive-laden messages to members of his fraternity, Spiegel made offensive jokes about having sex with women.

Once the emails were publicized, Spiegel issued an apology.

“I’m sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them,” he said in 2014. “They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.”

While at Stanford, a friend of the family let Spiegel sit in on a graduate-level class on entrepreneurship and venture capital. In that class he heard talks from tech luminaries like Google CEO Eric Schmidt and YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley.

Source: LA Weekly

Spiegel befriended Intuit founder Scott Cook after he gave a talk at one class. Cook ended up letting Spiegel work on a product Intuit planned to release in India while he was still an undergrad.


Cook ended up becoming an early Snapchat investor because he was so impressed with Spiegel. But he thought the idea behind Snapchat was stupid. “I didn’t believe in the product,” Cook recently told BI. “Who needs disappearing photos? I thought he was dead wrong on the business.”


Source: Business Insider

Spiegel dropped out of Stanford just a few credits short of graduation to work on Snapchat full time. The team developed the bulk of the disappearing messages app, which was first called Picaboo, in 2012 while headquartered at Spiegel’s dad’s house in the Palisades.


Though Snapchat eventually moved to offices on the Venice boardwalk, Spiegel lived at his dad’s house for years, in part because “the rent is cheap.”


In 2013, Reggie Brown filed a lawsuit against Spiegel and Murphy after he was forced out of the company and not given equity. The lawsuit was eventually settled, and Snapchat paid Brown $US157.5 million to disappear.

Business Insider/Alyson ShontellReggie Brown, from a deposition clip obtained by Business Insider.

Source: Business Insider

Spiegel moved out of his dad’s house in November 2014 and bought his own three-bedroom house in Brentwood for $US3.3 million.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters, Facebook / David Offers Fine Homes

It wasn’t long before would-be acquirers came knocking on Spiegel’s door to buy Snapchat. He famously rebuffed a $US3 billion offer from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2013.

Shortly after Spiegel turned down the offer from Zuckerberg, Facebook tried to clone Snapchat with a failed app called Poke.

Source: Forbes

As Snapchat’s user base and valuation continued to swell, Spiegel quickly became a bona fide celebrity in the worlds of tech and media. Here he is hanging out with George Lucas and Vice CEO Shane Smith during the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in October 2014.

Michael Kovac / Getty Images

In 2014, Spiegel’s startup loaned he and cofounder Bobby Murphy $US5 million each.

Source: SEC

After Snapchat completed a big funding round in June 2015, Spiegel bought himself a Ferrari.

Dave Smith/Tech Insider

Spiegel was romantically linked with pop superstar Taylor Swift for a brief time. The two reportedly met in December 2013 at a New Year’s Eve party.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Source: LaineyGossip

Spiegel has been fascinated with the music industry for years, and former Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is Snap’s board chairman. Spiegel was reportedly interested in buying Big Machine — the record label that represents Swift — but the deal never went through.

David McNew/GettySony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

Source: New York Post

Spiegel started dating supermodel Miranda Kerr during the summer of 2015. They first met at a 2014 dinner for Louis Vuitton.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images; Michael Kovac/Getty Images

In May 2016, the couple purchased a 7,164-square-foot house that had once been owned by Harrison Ford for $US12 million.


Things moved quickly after that: the power couple announced that they were engaged in July 2016.

Spiegel cares about fashion more than most tech CEOs. He made headlines in October 2015 for appearing on the cover of Vogue Italy.

Vogue Italy

Source: Vogue Italy

His signature shoes are $US410 Common Projects sneakers, and his signature shirt is a James Perse white v-neck, which retails for $US60. He once told GQ that the shirt has been a “staple since high school.”

Spiegel is also a licensed helicopter pilot, and he enjoys flower arranging.

Source: GQ

Spiegel highly values secrecy in his business dealings, as well as his personal life. Snap employees often don’t know about products the company is working on until they’re announced publicly.

Source: Business Insider

Spiegel often moves across the company’s network of Venice Beach outposts in a black car flanked by his security detail. His security cost $US890,399 in 2016.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(Not Evan Spiegel.)

Sources: SEC

In February 2016, Snapchat loaned Spiegel $US15 million. Snapchat raised $US175 million the following month at a $US16 billion valuation, and Spiegel repaid his outstanding loans in full later that year.

Source: SEC

Facebook began to copy Snapchat’s core features in Instagram and across many of its other apps around the later half of 2016. During a February 2017 interview, Miranda Kerr expressed frustration about Facebook’s strategy. “Can they not be innovative?” she said. “Do they have to steal all of my partner’s ideas?”

Brad Barket/Getty Images

Source: The Times

Spiegel eventually addressed Facebook’s copying of Snapchat. “At the end of the day, just because Yahoo has a search box, it doesn’t mean they’re Google,” he said.


Source: Business Insider

In September 2016, Spiegel renamed Snapchat to Snap Inc. and called it a “camera company.” He also unveiled camera-equipped sunglasses called Spectacles.


Source: WSJ Magazine

Snap went public on March 2, 2017 at a valuation of roughly $US33 billion. Spiegel instantly added about $US1.6 billion to his net worth based on Snap’s 44% jump in share price in the first day of trading.

Hollis Johnson

Not long after, Kerr and Spiegel tied the knot at their home in Brentwood, California. The wedding was an “intimate affair” with about 50 guests in attendance, many of whom were “high-profile” or models.

Getty Images

Spiegel is known for being secretive, and that extended to his nuptials, too: Guests were picked up at checkpoints and driven to Spiegel and Kerr’s home in blacked-out limos.

A pianist played “When You Wish Upon a Star” during the cocktail hour, and during the reception, Kerr sang a rendition of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” to Spiegel.

Source: TMZ

Spiegel and Kerr honeymooned on the private island of Laucala in Fiji at a resort owned by Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz. Not long after, the CEO reportedly took some time off for a “bro trip.” He went sailing off the coast of Italy and Greece in a mega yacht that rents for $US967,415 a week.

Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Source: Page Six,Architectural Digest

In November, Spiegel and Kerr announced they were expecting their first child together. A baby boy, named Hart Spiegel, was born in May.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Source: People, People

Spiegel was the best-paid CEO in the US in 2017, according to Bloomberg’s Pay Index — he made about $US504 million in total.

Source: Bloomberg

This year has presented Snap with new challenges. In February, Snap rolled out a redesign to its app that was massively unpopular with users. And in March, the company laid off around 7% of its staff.

Alex Heath / Business InsiderA Snap billboard on Wall Street.

After months of insisting that the redesign was here to stay, Snap began testing a new design for the app in April that would walk back some of the biggest changes.

Source: Business Insider

Still, Spiegel remains one of the youngest and most successful founders in tech. He was named the youngest self-made billionaire in the world by Forbes by age 25. Now has an estimated net worth of about $US2.7 billion based on Snap’s value as a public company — down from a peak of about $US4 billion.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time Inc

Source: Forbes,Forbes

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