A Wall Street analyst's 'hot mic' upstaged Snapchat's CEO and stole the show

Evan SpiegelMichael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity FairSnap CEO Evan Spiegel’s comments about ‘growth hacking’ were not entirely satisfactory for one Wall Street analyst.

A Wall Street analyst upstaged Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on the company’s Q2 conference call thanks to a classic “hot mic” snafu. 

It happened towards the end of Snap’s 60-minute call on Thursday, lending a comedic, and perhaps fitting, finish to the discussion about the business’ underwhelming performance. 

Spiegel and Snap exec Imran Khan lambasted “growth hacking” by certain unnamed competitors, a thinly veiled accusation at the phone notifications and other techniques that Facebook, Twitter, and others serve up to lure users back to their apps. 

Enter Rich Greenfield, an analyst for BTIG, who pointed out on the call that Snap also sends such phone notifications to users. Why is what Snap does any different than what it accuses competitors of doing?

The answer, Snap CEO Spiegel explained, was that certain companies have “relaxed their standards,” Snap’s content is “relevant,” and anyone looking for examples of the most egregious growth hacking should just “go for a Google.”

As far as conference call non-answers go, it was pretty standard fare. 

Unfortunately, when Greenfield’s colleague Brandon Ross erupted into laughter, and exclaimed that “I didn’t even understand his response,” the phone had not yet been disconnected from the conference call creating an awkward moment for the Snap executives, other analysts and all the press and investors that were tuned in. 

Not surprisingly, the gaffe was quickly discussed on Twitter:

 Even Greenfield had a laugh, using, what else, but Snapchat Bitmoji: 

Comic relief

Hot mics offer a cherished moment of levity in the quarterly routine of stilted earnings-call dialogue. In July, listeners to Google-parent company Alphabet’s earnings call were treated to another gem when an analyst was heard mumbling something after company executives sidestepped his question. 

Asked if he had any regrets about his colleague’s hot mic, Greenfield said “it was certainly not intended to be heard on the call.”

Snap had already introduced the next analyst in the queue for the question-and-answer session, he told Business Insider in an email, by way of explanation for the inopportune remarks.

But the hot-mic comments reflect a broader confusion about Snapchat’s “growth hacking” philosophy, Greenfied insists.

“Based on investor feedback, it is clear that nobody understands what other social networks are doing differently than Snapchat that would drive Evan to label other’s actions ‘growth hacking’ distinct from what Snapchat is doing,” Greenfield said.  

You can listen to the key moment of the Snap call here:

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