SNAPCHAT LAWSUIT VIDEOS: After A 37-Second Pause, Snapchat's CEO Describes Regrets About The Friend He Ousted

Snapchat Lawsuit Videos graphicBusiness InsiderLeft to right: Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy

Last week, Business Insider obtained videos from the ownership lawsuit over red-hot technology company Snapchat.

Today, we have more never-before-seen clips from the depositions in April with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and CTO Bobby Murphy.

The pair and their investors are being sued by Snapchat’s alleged third co-founder, Reggie Brown. If a settlement is reached, Brown could be awarded hundreds of millions of dollars for his early work on the disappearing photo app. Recent Snapchat acquisition offers have reportedly been between $US3 and $US4 billion.

Parallels can be drawn between this lawsuit and Mark Zuckerberg’s battle with the Winklevoss twins over who invented Facebook. Ultimately, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss were given Facebook stock totaling $US65 million, which later increased significantly along with Facebook’s value. The Winklevoss’ law firm, Quinn Emanuel, is now representing Snapchat against Brown.

There are some details about Snapchat’s founding story that all the parties already appear to have agreed upon:

  • Snapchat’s basic premise, disappearing photos, was Brown’s idea.
  • Spiegel and Brown recruited Murphy together.
  • Murphy, Spiegel and Brown worked together on an early version of Snapchat, Picaboo, during the summer of 2011. They lived at Spiegel’s father’s house in Los Angeles.

In August 2011, Spiegel and Brown had a falling out. The classmates weren’t speaking when they returned to Stanford that fall, TechCrunch’s Billy Gallagher reported. In February 2013, Brown filed a legal complaint alleging that he had been swindled out of his ownership stake in the company.

The April 2013 depositions spanned three days and were captured in more than 20 hours of footage.

In the following clips, Spiegel and Brown discuss Brown’s early work at Snapchat. They paint Brown as nothing more than a glorified intern who worked for “room, board and food” rather than equity.

Brown, of course, disputes that. He believed he was giving up his summer for a chunk of the company making the product that he devised.

Neither Spiegel nor Quinn Emanuel, Snapchat’s law firm, have responded to multiple requests for comment.

Here is Snapchat CEO Spiegel’s recollection of Brown’s early role and compensation.

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Murphy, on the other hand, says Brown’s early role was never made clear to him.

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Murphy says he believes Brown joined him and Spiegel to gain “experience.”

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If Brown was nothing more than a helping hand though, it’s odd that Spiegel and Murphy included him in early company documentation. Brown’s lawyers have found both a Facebook page and a company profile page that list Brown as an early Snapchat executive (the company was called Picaboo at the time). They’re using both documents as exhibits in the lawsuit.

Here’s documentation from Crunchbase, for example, which lists Brown as Picaboo’s CMO underneath the company’s profile, according to a document filed in the lawsuit. It was edited by an IP address presumably belonging to Spiegel on July 25, 2011.

Crunchbase IP snapchatBusiness Insider via LA Superior CourtA Crunchbase screenshot from late July 2011 shows an IP address that Spiegel says may be his, editing a page with Reggie Brown listed as CMO.

Here’s Spiegel describing that CrunchBase page in his deposition.

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Similarly, there’s documentation of Murphy, Snapchat’s CTO, tagging Brown as a Picaboo “employer” on Facebook. But Murphy says he may not have understood what the word “employer” meant when he did so.

“It’s very easy to mis-click or not understand exactly what you’re doing [on Facebook],” Murphy testified.

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According to Brown, he wasn’t just a glorified intern: He was Snapchat’s first Chief Marketing Officer.

What kind of work did he do in that role?

Brown filed a patent on behalf of the company for disappearing photos. He was also tasked with helping Picaboo get press. While some of his early press releases were written in a fratty tone, other pitches written by Brown were effective. One Picaboo media consultant called Brown’s work “great.”

Here’s that exhibit.

Although Snapchat has yet to offer its own version of events, it seems like Brown should deserve something for his early work alongside Spiegel and Murphy. Evan Spiegel said as much during his deposition.

Snapchat’s investors are eager to settle with Brown quickly and talks have already begun, sources tell Business Insider. But it’s not clear how far along the process is. A trial date has not been set yet.

There is one key difference between this lawsuit and the Facebook-Winklevoss battle: The plaintiff and the primary defendant were once good friends.
“Best friends,” according to Billy Gallagher’s TechCrunch report. Brown and Spiegel were freshman-year hallmates who pledged a Stanford fraternity, Kappa Sigma, together.

So, does Spiegel feel any guilt for what happened to his former friend, who gave him the idea for Snapchat? Spiegel was asked if he had any regrets during his deposition. He remained silent for the next 37 seconds while he contemplated a response. Then he replied:

“That’s a really hard question for me because it’s pretty clear that I lost a good friend.”

After another 39-second silence, Spiegel was asked to conclude his remarks. This time, instead of harping on a lost friendship, Spiegel said he felt victimized.

“I regret inviting him to my house,” Spiegel said. “I regret spending that time with him at my house. I regret giving him so many chances … He exploited my attempts at generosity … the generosity was giving Reggie an opportunity to work on something like this … for experience that he didn’t have.”

When asked if Spiegel regretted Brown “sharing his idea with him,” Spiegel only paused for a second or two.


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