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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.