Snapchat just had a major security breach in which over 4.6 million user accounts were jeopardized.
The company released a statement without an apology. CEO Evan Spiegel didn’t offer an apology on yesterday’s Today show segment either. Now, Fortune’s Dan Primack is wondering if Evan Spiegel should be fired.
“If Evan Spiegel is disinclined to apologise, or doesn’t feel he should, then perhaps he really isn’t up for the job,” Primack writes.
Many young CEOs are forced to grow up on the job and they face public scrutiny. For a period of time, people were calling for Mark Zuckerberg’s head. Then he hired Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s “adult supervision,” and the demands died down. Tumblr CEO David Karp battled a lot of reports that the board was looking to replace him with a more mature CEO.
Spiegel has had some questionable behaviour. He once locked his friend, Reggie Brown, out of Snapchat’s system after a drunken argument. During high school, he reportedly fought with his father over a car and cut himself out of family photos.
But under his watch, Snapchat has exploded to tens of millions of active users. More than 350 million messages are sent and received on Snapchat per day. Spiegel also had the courage to turn down multiple billion-dollar offers and try to create a lasting company.
He also knows how to apologise. If you watch his deposition interviews, in which he’s asked about his former friend Reggie Brown, he has real regrets. And when asked if Brown deserves anything for his early work on the app, Spiegel gave an honest response: “Reggie may deserve something for some of his contributions.” That line may ultimately cost Spiegel the lawsuit and tens of millions of dollars, but at least he seemed remorseful.
Having communicated with the company a number of times, I don’t think the problem is Evan Spiegel. I think the problem is that he has one communications person, Mary Ritti, who lives and works in San Francisco rather than Los Angeles. In my experience, she responds to fewer email inquiries than Spiegel himself, maybe because she’s overloaded. Spiegel should take his $US123 million and hire more people for her team, or perhaps hire a new communications lead altogether.
Additionally, Bobby Murphy, 25, is Snapchat’s technical lead. Spiegel is its CEO and product guy. If the code is that faulty, maybe Snapchat needs adult supervision on the tech side.
But Spiegel has done an incredible job building this company. To cut him short now, when he’s helped Snapchat achieve so much, would be a serious mistake.