Mon, Nov 04, 2019

Evan Spiegel doesn't regret the Snapchat redesign that tanked Snap's stock and pushed Kylie Jenner to quit

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel told The Wall Street Journal that Snapchat's much-maligned redesign has actually benefitted the company.

Snapchat implemented a major redesign in 2018 which garnered widespread dismay from its users, and causing power user Kylie Jenner to send a crushing tweet saying she didn't open the app any more, sending Snap's shares plummeting by 7%.

The redesign simplified Snapchat into three main windows, and separated the messaging function and friends' stories from professionally produced content from news outlets and celebrities. It turned out a large chunk of Snapchat's userbase hated that separation.

But one-and-a-half years on, Spiegel says that separation helped Snap boost its fortunes.

The company beat Wall Street's expectations for the second quarter, posting an 8% increase in daily active users to 203 million and better-than-expected revenue. That resulted in a healthy 12% boost. Spiegel attributed Snap's recent good fortune to the firm's recent investments and, surprisingly, the redesign.

Spiegel said one of the main goals of the redesign was to "separate real friends from professional content creators."

"Time spent watching premium content grew 40% year over year, and the overall audience watching that premium content has grown as well. I think that's another example of one of those big bets that was challenging to make at the time starting to pay off," Spiegel said. He didn't elaborate on what exactly he meant by "premium content," but Snap has been investing in original shows including "Dead Girls Detective Agency," which reached a viewership of 14 million. Spiegel did hint that in future the company might not overhaul its design all at once the way it did in 2018:

"When we were a smaller, private company, it was easier for us to make drastic changes quickly, and just ride out the bumps. As a public company, people are looking for more predictable growth. Making drastic changes can actually harm the business in a way that makes it harder going forward. We've found ways to introduce products in a smoother way, which should hopefully help us move faster," he said.

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