CEO Pushed Snapchat Redesign Despite Internal Warnings: Report

Snap co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel pushed for the controversial Snapchat redesign despite numerous warnings from the company's product experts, The Information reports, citing interviews with current and former employees of the Venice, Los Angeles-based firm. The app revamp that prompted online movements and backlash from numerous users, including high-profile ones, has been inspired by a number of apps Mr. Spiegel saw in China during his trip to the Far Eastern country last fall, insiders claim. While Snap now started reverting some of the changes first introduced in December, with that move coming from the company's design team whose warnings were first ignored by the CEO, the damage has already been done, with the firm now expecting "decelerated revenue" in 2018.

When the company was preparing for its initial public offering last year, it had to issue brochures explaining how its app works to investors, with those materials underscoring how inaccessible Snapchat was to the average person. Investors were hence calling for a redesign that would attract more users to the platform by making it more approachable, though the December revamp apparently had the opposite effect, having alienated some of the company's existing user base and slowed down its growth; over the final three months of 2017, Snapchat added nearly nine million people to its platform, whereas those additions were cut in half during the first quarter of this year.

The polarizing redesign that separated the content posted by celebrities and brands from that created by one's friends is also understood to have been fumbled due to an unrealistic timeline attached to it, with Mr. Spiegel originally wanting it done in six weeks, in time for the last holiday season. While the new look started rolling out to some users by December, it wasn't widely available until late winter. At least one employee interviewed by The Information claims Mr. Spiegel hasn't specifically outlined what the redesign was meant to achieve, adding more confusion to the effort, though another person disputed that notion. The company's engineers and designers were also surprised that Mr. Spiegel announced the new look in November while they still only had one prototype, with the controversial revamp that ended up shipping being based entirely on his original premise outlined in September. The new redesign that reverts some of the previous changes has instead been drafted by Snap's product team oversaw by Mr. Spiegel. "There is no doubt that collaboration yields better results," the CEO said in an emailed statement to The Information, seemingly acknowledging the initial endeavor could have been organized more effectively.

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