The guy who designed Apple's iOS owns a tenth of a per cent of Snapchat -- which could make him $16.5 million

Tim cook scott forstall appleREUTERS/Stephen LamTim Cook and Scott Forstall introduce iOS6 on stage at Apple’s WWDC 2012.

Snapchat’s rumoured $US15 billion valuation means ex-Apple executive and Snapchat advisor Scott Forstall could make $US16.5 million or more on what we now know to be a 0.11% stake in the messaging app company, reports TechCrunch.

The fact of Forstall’s connection to Snapchat, as well as how much equity he has, only came to light today after Wikileaks made it a lot easier to search through emails from the Sony Pictures hack of late 2014.

Sony Pictures president Michael Lynton is a Snapchat board member, and so a lot of the startup’s secrets are out in the open.

For his part, Forstall is best known as the guy picked by Steve Jobs to design the original iPhone operating system software, which would later become iOS — beating out future Nest founder Tony Faddell for the job. Forstall would leave Apple in 2013, in the wake of the botched iOS 6 launch (including the Apple Maps debacle) and the subsequent earnings below expectations.

This is a fun example of the kinds of behind-the-scenes games that startups play to get really smart people on their side.

For example, we don’t know (and may never know) how involved Forstall is in the day-to-day operations at Snapchat, and what advising would entail.

We also don’t know his vesting schedule, meaning he could end up with much less if he walks away from the role early. And in the highly unlikely event Snapchat gets purchased at some point for less than its reported $US15 billion valuation tomorrow, his return would be similarly lower.

On the other hand, if Snapchat eventually raises another round of venture financing at a $US30 billion valuation, he’d suddenly go from $US16.5 million worth of equity in Snapchat to $US33 million.

But all of this money exists only on the term sheets and Excel files at Snapchat, and we don’t even know if he’s getting any other compensation (fees, a paycheck) from the company.

“We have a number of advisors, but we don’t comment on the specifics of their relationship with the company,” Snapchat told Techcrunch.

So while Snapchat has lots of advisors, take this as a case study in how Silicon Valley does business. It’s all about the potential to make a lot of money tomorrow rather than a smaller payout today, even if all of that money remains theoretical for a long, long time.

And a small slice of a big pie can still be pretty tasty.

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