A day after Snapchat started trending on Indian social media for all the wrong reasons, the company strongly denied the charges made against CEO Evan Spiegel, terming them “ridiculous”. “Those words were written by a disgruntled former employee. We are grateful for our Snapchat community in India and around the world,” a spokesperson for the U.S. based company said in a statement to FactorDaily.
“Obviously Snapchat is for everyone! It’s available worldwide to download for free,” the company representative said.
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is not known to many people in India, compared to other social media bigwigs. But out of nowhere, on Saturday he was trending on all social platforms in India.
All the commotion revolves around a comment he did or did not make. US-based news website Variety quoted Snapchat’s ex-employee Anthony Pompliano as saying that Spiegel told him (in September 2015) that “the app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”
Pompliano’s interview tells the story of his brief, three-week tenure at the company, during which he says he learned that the company had exaggerated its user data and that top executives were “completely misinformed” about key metrics.
Obviously Snapchat is for everyone! It’s available worldwide to download for free” — Snapchat
Indian social circuit however was lit ablaze with many calling for the boycott of the multimedia sharing app and #boycottsnapchat trending on Twitter. Others took action on the Apple App store, driving the ratings of the App to one star and bombarding it with sarcastic reviews mocking Speigel.
The platform is not as popular in India as others, such as Instagram and Facebook. Given that India is overwhelming dominated by Android devices, it doesn’t help that most user engagement for the App happens on iOS. Snapchat, launched in 2011, was initially iOS-only.
The company has come under intense pressure from Instagram after the photo sharing app introduced an almost identical set of features like Insta Stories, localised stickers etc.
In 25 weeks after its launch, Instagram Stories had reached 150 million daily users, which is the same number of users that Snapchat’s app reportedly hit around June 2016.
The effects arising from the loss of differentiation can also be seen in the fact that the San Fransico-based company recorded its lowest percentage growth quarter since the beginning of its publicly available data in 2014.
Snapchat has 100 million daily active users and derives its primary growth from teens based out of the United States. As it struggles to match upto the competition, countries like India with a booming digital population could play a significant role. It will be interesting to see how the company reaches out to pacify its Indian users.
Snapdeal becomes collateral damage
Meanwhile, in an absurd twist, Indian e-commerce company Snapdeal, which has no connection whatsoever with Snapchat, found itself needlessly dragged into the #boycottsnapchat controversy on Sunday with many users uninstalling the Snapdeal app instead — obviously a result of the apps’ similar names. Many users have also shared negative reviews of Snapdeal on Google Play Store.
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Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures and Vijay Shekhar Sharma among its investors. Accel Partners is an early investor in Flipkart. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. None of FactorDaily’s investors have any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.