Evan Spiegel posted his first Snapchat blog post back in 2012. Ten years later, it’s still the most consistent description of an app that has proudly confounded the tech world ever since.
“Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment,” the 22-year-old future Snap CEO wrote. “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection, but instead creates a space to be funny, honest, or whatever you might feel the moment you take and share a Snap.”
Reading it now, Spiegel’s blog post has the unmistakably twee techno-optimism of the early 2010s – there’s a whole passage about taking a picture of yourself “mimicking the face of a star-nosed mole. “. But it’s also Spiegel at his most visionary. He accurately predicted the future of the social web, the one we live in now. He understood that social media was not about managing inflated profiles of ourselves, but about experimenting and playing. And it’s also clear now that TikTok, an app that’s become the world’s biggest for a new generation of internet users, didn’t come from the evolving branch of Facebook, but from that of Snapchat.
Spiegel’s platform never lived up to what users, investors, or the tech media expected of it. In fact, 10 years after he, current chief technology officer Bobby Murphy and his classmate Reggie Brown first launched Snapchat as students at Stanford University, there’s still no real consensus on what it is or how to use it. It’s a weird app, run by a weirder CEO.