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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says Maps are part of the company’s secret sauce. Photo: Snap Maps

Snapchat has seen nearly 40% growth in Stories submissions since launching Snap Maps, Axios has learned. The Venice Beach company believes that Maps are a part of a tool set that empowers users to get creative and express themselves, which CEO Evan Spiegel thinks will drive the company to compete with rivals Facebook and Instagram in the long-term.

Why it matters: Investors have been concerned about Snapchat's value proposition ever since Instagram successfully launched a rival Stories feature last summer, which put a dent in Snap's user growth. But Snapchat thinks it can take on Instagram and its parent company Facebook with user engagement — spurred by camera creativity — which creates more opportunities for advertisers.

Early engagement success through Maps, where users can upload and share content from around the world in seconds, suggests they are on the right track. "We fundamentally believe that by empowering self expression for everyone, we will grow our business," Spiegel said Monday at the Vanity Fair Establishment Summit.

By the numbers:

  • Snapchat expects over a trillion Snaps to be sent this year — roughly 3 billion per day, with daily active users opening the app 20 times per day.
  • Sixty percent of its daily users create content on the platform daily, and more than one third of daily users engage with Snapchat's augmented reality technology — putting Snapchat far ahead of both Apple and Facebook in AR use. By comparison, Facebook has seen a decline in page engagement.
  • p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.8px Arial; color: #222222; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; background-color: #ffffff} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} In Q2, users under 25 spent more than 40 minutes per day on the app and users 25 and over spent more than 20 minutes per day on the app. By comparison, Instagram users under 25 spend 32 minutes per day on the app, and users over 25 spend 24 minutes a day on the app.

The bottom line: Spiegel thinks this is Snap's secret sauce. "One of the challenges we see on other services ... is you start with this layer of judgment rather than your own experience," he said. "I think that can be really limiting because it's almost paralyzing to think that anything you create is going to be judged by millions and millions of people."

"You have to build a new system that empowers people to express themselves. And that system has to be free of the judgment that I think many people experience today ... Instead of having creativity be controlled by a few people, it democratizes and opens up the ability for the individual to be creative."

Go deeper

J&J and Merck to partner for COVID vaccine production to boost supply

Empty vials that contained a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help Johnson & Johnson manufacture its newly authorized coronavirus vaccine to boost supply, a senior administration official tells Axios.

The big picture: The development has the potential to vastly increase supply, possibly doubling what the J&J could make on its own, the official said. The company has run into challenges while trying to expand its vaccine production to a global scale.

Casinos throw cash at sports betting media

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Casinos are investing millions on sports betting content to lure bettors to their online and in-person sportsbooks.

Why it matters: It’s a mini gold rush for some sports media companies that were struggling in the pandemic.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
21 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels

Newly released data show that global CO2 emissions had returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year and surpassed them in some major economies.

Why it matters: The International Energy Agency warned that clean energy efforts are falling short.