Snapchat CEO: Classmate may deserve something for the idea

The photo-sharing site's CEO admits in a deposition video obtained by Business Insider that Reggie Brown, who's suing Snapchat for a piece of the pie, might be entitled to something for his contributions.

Snapchat headquarters in Venice, Calif.
Snapchat headquarters in Venice, Calif. Chris Kirkman

Snapchat is battling a lawsuit from a self-dubbed co-founder who wants part of the company, and a comment from CEO Evan Spiegel may have given him some ammunition.

In the suit filed in February of 2013, Reggie Brown claims that he was the third co-founder of Snapchat and that fellow co-founders Spiegel and Bobby Murphy cut him out of any stake in the company. As related by Business Insider, Brown testified in an April deposition that he came up with the idea for an app that deletes photo messages and told Spiegel about it.

In response, Spiegel called it a "million dollar idea," according to Brown, who also said that they discussed forming a company with Spiegel as CEO and Brown as the marketing officer. Spiegel testified that Brown did present the idea to him but said he never asked him to work on the app. However, he said he did let Brown search for a developer, who turned out to be future co-founder Murphy.

Both Spiegel and Murphy have claimed that Brown was not part of the company. But some of Murphy's own past actions may have undermined that claim.

An e-mail sent to Brown showed that Murphy used Facebook to tag him as an employee in Picaboo, the precedessor to Snapchat. In another e-mail, Murphy said that he had built an app with two friends of his, whom he testifed referred to Spiegel and Brown.

Finally, though, it was Spiegel's own testimony, posted along with several video clips of the deposition in the BI story, that may have worked in Brown's favor. When asked if Brown deserves anything for the contributions he made on the project, Spiegel eventually replied: "Reggie may deserve something for some of his contributions."

How might the lawsuit ultimately play out? Sources close to Snapchat told BI that a settlement will likely be hammered out in which Brown will receive a large amount of cash and/or stock from the company.

A spokeswoman for Snapchat told CNET that the company had no comment on the lawsuit.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.


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