The 23-year‑old Snapchat co-founder and CEO who said no to a $3bn offer from Facebook

Evan Spiegel declined the offer from the social networking company, which would have been its most expensive purchase to date

Los Angeles

Two years ago, his Stanford University classmates were scoffing at his idea for a new kind of instant messaging app. This week, 23-year-old Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel is reported to have turned down an offer from Facebook of $3bn (£1.9bn) for his young firm.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr Spiegel and his partner, CTO Bobby Murphy, 25, declined a cash offer of “close to $3bn or more” for Snapchat. It would have made it Facebook’s most expensive purchase to date, dwarfing last year’s $1bn acquisition of the photo-sharing social network Instagram. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg had apparently approached the Los Angeles-based firm with a previous offer in the region of $1bn but was rebuffed. His new bid was also declined, said the paper, because the Snapchat CEO is holding out for even higher offers early next year, when he expects the app’s already vast user numbers to have ballooned further.

Snapchat users can take and edit photos or video and send them to friends. Unlike similar services, however, the app allows its users to set a time limit of up to 10 seconds on each message, after which time the “Snap” will self-destruct and delete itself.

Fraternity brothers Mr Spiegel and Mr Murphy conceived the app, originally named Picaboo, as part of Mr Spiegel’s product design degree at Stanford. In spite of classmates’ scepticism, the pair launched their start-up – from Mr Spiegel’s father’s sitting room – in September 2011. Two years on, more than 350 million images are shared via Snapchat every day. A recent study by the Pew Research Center suggested 9 per cent of US smartphone owners used Snapchat, including 26 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds. The app is also wildly popular with younger teenagers.

News of Facebook’s offer comes in the wake of Twitter’s IPO last week, in which has the micro-blogging service was valued at about $25bn. Twitter remains unprofitable, though it boasted revenue of almost $170m in the last quarter. Snapchat, as yet, has no revenue stream whatsoever. While similar services rely on advertising to make money, Mr Spiegel is said to be pursuing the possibility of charging users for added services and in-app transactions.

The firm has also amassed significant venture capital investment. In June, its most recent funding round raised more than $60m, valuing the company at over $800m. Since then, the Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent Holdings has reportedly offered to lead a further investment round, which would put Snapchat’s worth at $4bn.

Benchmark Capital partner Mitch Lasky, one of Snapchat’s early investors, wrote in February: “At Benchmark we search for entrepreneurs who want to change the world, and Evan and Bobby certainly have that ambition. We believe that Snapchat can become one of the most important mobile companies in the world.”

Snapchat’s success has not come without controversy. Some have questioned its claim that images delete themselves from the recipient’s phone and the Snapchat server, after users managed to hack the app and save the supposedly impermanent snaps. The service has also been accused of encouraging so-called “sexting” among young people. Research conducted this summer suggested almost half of the 18- to 30-year-olds who use Snapchat in the UK had been sent naked images.

Mr Spiegel and Mr Murphy are also the targets of a pending lawsuit from a former college friend, Frank Brown, who claims to have come up with the idea for Snapchat, designed its logo and christened the concept “Picaboo”. Mr Spiegel has said in the past that the idea for Snapchat first occurred to him when a Stanford friend – Mr Brown – complained, “I wish these photos I am sending this girl would disappear.”

Though the trio originally worked on the app together, Mr Brown claims he fell out with the other founders in August 2011. In a recent filing, which also includes Snapchat’s early investors in the lawsuit, Mr Brown submitted several emails, Google chats and even a text message to his mother from Mr Spiegel’s father, which purport to prove that Snapchat was a three-person project. Snapchat describes Mr Brown’s claims as “frivolous” and “utterly devoid of merit”.

The ones that got away

Groupon In 2010, the online daily deals firm declined a $6bn offer from Google. In February, its founder Andrew Mason was fired, after the firm’s value fell by $10bn.

Digg Before Facebook and Twitter, aggregator service Digg seemed like the next big thing for news. Its founder Kevin Rose reportedly had offers of $200m, only to end up selling last year for $500,000.

Pointcast This pioneer of “push” technology rebuffed News Corp’s $450m offer in 1997, and sold for $7m two years later.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

    Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

    Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

    £60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

    Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

    competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits