Snap CEO Spiegel deflects Facebook threat, says ‘Innovators Win’

Soros, Lone Pine washed hands of Snap before latest stock slump. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW YORK: Snap Inc. Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel brushed off Facebook Inc.’s frequent mimicking of Snapchat’s app features, saying “innovators win in the long run.”

Speaking in an interview on CNBC from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, Spiegel said the company remains focused on the camera and stressed that Snap is a technology company, rather than a media or social-networking service.

The CEO said Snapchat’s “friend graph” will help keep Facebook at bay. That lets users add only the friends they want, making users feel more comfortable sharing content.

Facebook has rolled out several products recently that imitate those originally found on Snapchat, such as photo and video Stories that disappear after 24 hours. But at a time when Facebook has come under fire for how much personal data it collects on its users and what it does with it, Snap says its model helps it stand out.

“We believe you need to have control over your data to feel free to express yourself,” Spiegel said. The CEO said he believes the trust the company has built with its user base will “help navigate any mistakes we make in the future.”

In addition to the app and how people share aspects of their lives, Spiegel said in recent months it’s become clear “how important values are to consumers and therefore to advertisers. People want to feel good about what they’re buying.”

Snap is focused on improving how third-party apps are integrated with Snapchat especially on the Android platform, Spiegel said. “It hasn’t been up to our standards for some time. We’ve rewritten the product from the ground up. Getting Android right is critical for us.”

Snap faced criticism in recent months, including a slight from Kylie Jenner, for a redesign of its app. Spiegel said the critiques were “fair” and he “loves getting that feedback.”

When asked about the possibility for further acquisitions, Spiegel said the company “has made great ones in the past,” and wouldn’t rule it out.

Snap shares have rebounded after hitting a record low in late May following a disappointing earnings report. They’re up more than 30% in the past month, though still off about 17% from their March 2017 initial share price of $17.