SnapChat is a camera company – CEO

Despite all of its new bells and whistles… and the billions of videos, ads, and effects that have been added to the service, Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegel still thinks of the new media juggernaut he’s created as “a camera company”.

Speaking at Columbia University’s#StartupColumbia event on Friday, Spiegel ran through a number of the defining features of the company that now accounts for more than 10 billion video views on various mobile devices.

The runaway success of Stories, Snapchat’s video and photo watching tool, even caught Spiegel by surprise. “Stories blew us away,” he said.

“What was envisioned at the time as an ephemeral profile — this is who I am right now — has become a lot more… To watch the evolution of Stories into more of a broadcasting platform [and] away from just a profile-based concept where it started is very exciting.”

While Snapchat Stories may be the feature that brings the company the revenue model it needs to validate its $16 billion valuation, and while the ephemeral messaging feature may be what initially attracted the hordes of millennials sending digital ephemera to each other billions of times a day, Spiegel says that the camera itself remains Snapchat’s unifying feature.

Snapchat opens to the camera, Spiegel said. Chat is available to the left of the camera, and Stories is available to the right of the camera.

That not only differentiates it from other social media products, but allows Snapchat to straddle the line between the defining features of several of them.

“The beautiful thing is it sort of sits in the middle, but more importantly it opens to the camera,” Spiegel said.

“The thing that feeds a social network is content… Similarly with communication… So in our view, when you take a snap and you choose this path between talking to your friends or adding it to your Story we end up with this harmony where both of these businesses feed themselves. I don’t think it’s one or the other.”

In a way, even the company’s movement into filters, stickers, and lenses such as face swap are further extensions of the original thesis of Snapchat as a photographic communication tool.

“Now you can put the way you feel… in the moment you’re experiencing. For us that’s just the beginning of some fun, creative tools,” he said.

Looking beyond the product, on which Spiegel said he spent 40% of his time, his other duties are recruiting (which occupies another 40% of his time) and then the other operational decisions that go into running a company.

Source: Tech Crunch