CEO Evan Spiegel is the public face of Snapchat parent company Snap Inc., but Bobby Murphy also wields considerable power as its cofounder and chief technology officer.
Together, Murphy and Spiegel own the vast majority of Snap’s voting stock, giving them complete control over the company’s future. Now that Snap has gone public, Murphy has an estimated net worth of around $US5.4 billion.
Unlike Spiegel, Murphy has maintained a decidedly low profile since the beginning of the company. He’s only given a handful of interviews, and little is known about his personal life.
People who’ve worked with Murphy describe the 28-year-old as smart, friendly, and quiet.
“I’d describe him almost like a monk,” Snapchat’s first hire, David Kravitz, told Forbes in 2014. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him upset.”
We’ve pulled the highlights of Murphy’s life and career from interviews he’s given over the years and Business Insider’s own reporting:
Murphy, whose full name is Robert Cornelius Murphy, was born in Berkeley, California in 1988. His mother immigrated from the Philippines to the US, and both of his parents had government jobs.
He spent his elementary years at the School of the Madeleine, a private Catholic school in Berkeley. He then went on to attend Saint Mary's College High School, another private Catholic school in the area.
Murphy met Spiegel while studying at Stanford, where the two lived across the hall from each other and were both members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Murphy studied mathematical and computational science, while Spiegel studied product design.
Before starting Snapchat, Spiegel and Murphy worked on a failed startup together called Future Freshman, a website that gave high schoolers advice for how to apply to colleges.
Murphy and Spiegel came up with the idea for an app that could send disappearing messages with fellow classmate Reggie Brown, who was quickly kicked out of the startup and later paid $157.5 million to disappear.
Spiegel and Murphy created the bulk of their app, which was first called Picaboo, in 2012 while headquartered at Spiegel's dad's house in the Palisades. Murphy worked 18-hour days to develop a working prototype of the app, and he remains the author of much of Snapchat's core code to this day.
Snapchat didn't explode in popularity overnight. Spiegel spent his senior year at Stanford trying to promote the app in-between classes, while then-graduated Murphy took a day job as an engineer at Revel Systems, an iPad-based register company in San Francisco.
Snapchat's user growth started to pick up toward the end of 2012, and Murphy used half of his paycheck from Revel to pay the app's server bills until they could secure venture capital funding.
About two years later, Spiegel and Murphy met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was interested in acquiring Snapchat for a reported $3 billion. Zuckerberg outlined how he planned to crush Snapchat with a similar app Facebook was working on called Poke. The duo rebuffed the offer and bought copies of Sun Tzu's book 'The Art of War' for their six employees, according to Forbes.
Murphy made his first TV appearance on The Colbert Show with Spiegel in 2013. Colbert grilled the duo over whether Snapchat was just a sexting app, and Murphy jokingly said that starting an app in college was the 'trendy thing to do.'
As chief technology officer, Murphy is responsible for Snap's engineering teams. Sources say he's also closely involved with Snap Labs, a mysterious team within the company that works on top-secret, unannounced products. Murphy's only public social media account is his Twitter profile. He's never tweeted, but he has liked one tweet from 2012.
In Snap's 'road show' pitch to investors, Murphy talked about how 'just about everything in the app is ordered around content creation.' He also touched on Snap's mission as a camera company: 'There's a lot of excitement around the future of this idea that the camera can be a launch point for interactive experiences.'
Murphy's base salary of $US250,000 in 2016 was half of Spiegel's. Now that Snap has gone public, each cofounder's stake in the company is worth at least $5.4 billion apiece. Murphy is engaged to a fellow classmate from Stanford, according to someone familiar with the couple. She attended Snap's 2017 public offering ceremony in New York City alongside Spiegel's fiancé, Miranda Kerr.
Snap went public on March 2, 2017 at a roughly $US33 billion valuation. Bullish investors think the company could be the next Facebook, but Spiegel and Murphy reject the comparison. 'We're not just chasing growth,' Murphy told the LA Times in an interview on the same day. 'It's engagement that leads to growth.'
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