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Snapchat should have never made it this far

Commentary: Evan Spiegel doomed his app to fail the second he thought it deserved all the money it received.


When a celebrity who was once nominated for an award called "Choice Selfie Taker" can wipe a billion dollars off a tech company's valuation, perhaps that company has always been on shaky ground.

Snapchat has not been in a good way. The company has struggled since its inception to find ways to monetize its here-for-a-limited-time camera app. Its most recent redesign is a clear attempt to shove as many of those moneymaking features as possible in front of its users' faces, and as you might expect, it's not going so well.

That's why it was extra hilarious when Kylie Jenner, who dared try to trademark "Kylie" when we all know that should to go Kylie Minogue, tweeted about how Snapchat has lost its way, presumably post-redesign. Bloomberg pointed out that this tweet occurred alongside a 7.2-percent drop in SNAP's share price, which wiped about $1 billion off the company's market value.

Here's the thing -- Snapchat should have never made it this far. While Spiegel and company might talk about how this revives the idea of spontaneity in the age of social media posts that exist forever, let's swerve around the circuitous language and hit the crux of the matter -- Snapchat was for sexting, and you cannot monetize a sexting app without treating it like one.

You can attempt to ignore that side of it and monetize the parts that work -- namely, the ability to have your content shoved in front of millions of faces on yet another medium -- but there's no guarantee that will work, and it's clear that it hasn't.

Other tech companies with similarly lofty valuations (and, perhaps, aspirations) have ended up in troubled waters, as well. Let's take Facebook, which according to the super-factual-totally-based-on-a-totally-true-story movie "The Social Network" was set up in part to help its founders with the opposite sex. Now, over a decade later, and Zuckerberg's company is being dragged across the coals for helping Russia ruin the pillars of US democracy. At least Snapchat isn't part of that mess, but it's not much better off.

Tech bros need to stop thinking they can change the course of human existence (except for Zuck, who is definitely making history, just... not in a good way). Just call a spade a spade. If your app is perfect for sexting, let it be that. If Snapchat had marketed itself as a cure for the scourge of career-ending revenge porn, I think the sexually liberated among us would have welcomed it with open arms. At least then the app would have a distinct, and perhaps even monetization-ready, purpose. Right now, it's just another slowly floundering and overvalued do-it-all app that even a member of the extended Kardashian clan doesn't want to keep up with.

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