Snapchat CEO 'devastated' by email leak in Sony hack

Recent acquisitions by the ephemeral message service have been revealed in emails between Evan Spiegel and Sony Pictures' CEO.

Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel told employees he was hurt by the revelation of company secrets. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said Wednesday he was "angry" and "devastated" that information about his startup's business plan was revealed as a result of Sony Pictures' crippling security breach.

The information was contained in archived mails between the chief of the ephemeral message service and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, who sits on Snapchat's board of directors. The emails -- apparently part of a massive cache of data obtained and leaked by hackers -- offered a snapshot of the 3-year-old startup's ambitions, including previously quiet acquisitions.

"I felt like I was going to cry all morning, so I went on a walk and thought through a couple things," he wrote in a memo sent to Snapchat employees Wednesday and later posted on Twitter. "I even ran into one of my high school design teachers. She gave me a huge hug. I really needed it."

The privacy-focused app's roadmap was just one of the secrets compromised when a hacking group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" broke in to the entertainment unit's computer networks and leaked thousands of financial documents, emails and a handful of unreleased movies to file-sharing sites. The group apparently objected to the planned release of "The Interview," a comedy about two TV journalists who become embroiled in a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. In response to hackers' threats to attack movie theaters, Sony canceled the movie's release Wednesday.

The Snapchat emails revealed that startup had acquired, among others, a company focused on wearable tech similar to Google Glass and a QR code-scanning company. They also offered insight into Snapchat's famous rejection of Facebook's acquisition offer, reportedly valued at $3 billion.

In his memo, Spiegel defended his right to guard his plans for the 3-year-old mobile app, which offers people a way to send text, pictures and videos to friends that disappear after a few seconds.

"We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgement -- until we're ready to share it," he wrote. "We keep secrets because keeping secrets gives you space to change your mind until you're really sure you're right."

While touting the privacy offered by its app, Snapchat has had its own privacy headaches. The company settled earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission, which said the company was deceiving users into thinking their photos and videos were gone forever, when in fact that wasn't the case. Snapchat was also hit by a widely publicized security breach earlier this year that compromised 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers.

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