Oct 4, 2019

Snap CEO talks rivals, anti-trust, going public

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 in San Francisco. Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Despite Snap's well-known rivalry with Facebook, CEO Evan Spiegel did not give a resounding "yes" when asked on Friday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference if breaking up Facebook would benefit society.

"I think the thing that everyone’s concerned about is that they’ve seen that competition has been what’s motivated Facebook to make changes over time. Those have really motivated Facebook to dramatically change their product offering in order to compete."
— Evan Spiegel

The big picture: "The concern is around anti-competitive practices," such as Facebook-owned Instagram suppressing links to Snapchat accounts, he said. As for an anti-trust investigation, "These investigations last 7 to 10 years... and basically nothing happens," said Spiegel, though he added he's not a regulator.

Spiegel also tried to distance his company's app from Chinese video app TikTok, whose popularity has recently exploded, by describing it as "premium user generated content" — created by users, but with more polished editing.

  • Meanwhile, Snapchat is focused on users creating and sharing content with their friends, which is why consumers find it compelling, he said. On the other hand, Snapchat has invested in high-quality content like shows from publishers.
  • "I think at a high level, we don't need to compete [in the middle] to be successful," Spiegel said, adding it is something the company would consider in the future.

Addressing his recent "don't go public" advice to companies: "I think the process of going public is actually an incredibly important process for a business," Spiegel said.

"[But]it can be challenging to grow a business with capital that is not very expensive and transition to a public market that has a very different set of metrics, frankly."

  • He later clarified to the interviewer, Josh Constine of TechCrunch, that he "was trying to make a joke” when he told entrepreneurs not to go public.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.