I’m not sure many of those who interacted with Snapchat in it’s infancy could have predicted that it would become the social media force it is today. Originally launched in 2011, it was one of the first messaging apps whose content expired after a short period of time. Since then, it has blossomed into a multi-faceted app with a range of different capabilities. Now, bolstered by their incredible growth, Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. is on the verge of a landmark $3 billion IPO.
Clearly, it’s time to start paying a little closer attention to all the snapping that’s going on. I’m not saying Snapchat deserves a seat in the social media pantheon just yet, but it’s got a foot in the door for sure. So let’s get to know Snapchat a little better, shall we? Stick around, and I’ll give you the who’s, what’s, where’s and even a few why’s.
A Little History
The founders of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, created the proto-app Picaboo while studying together at Stanford University in 2011. It was focused entirely on sending photos that would eventually disappear. It failed to generate much attention, and later that year Picaboo had a few extra features added and was rebranded as Snapchat.
In 2012, an Android version of the app was launched, significantly broadening their base. In conjunction with the added ability to record short videos as well as take photos, this larger pool of users led to major growth of the platform, and by the end of 2012, according to their blog, Snapchat users were sending upwards of 50 million snaps a day.
Grow, Grow, Grow!
Not content to sit on a well-performing app and call it a day, Snapchat has continued to regularly role out new aspects of the service which both refine it’s existing capabilities and add entirely new things to it. Since then, we’ve seen the addition of a number of new features. First up was Stories, a longer format that kept your info around for a full 24 hours, followed by Chat, fully-featured instant messaging that kept the hallmark quick self-destruction of your text. After that it was Geofilters, which let you add location-specific flair to your snaps and Snapchat Ads, which opened up the platform to advertisers.
And they didn’t stop there! Partnering with Square, they created Snapcash, which allowed Snapchat users to quickly transfer money into each other’s bank accounts, and Discover, a content delivery section that allowed publishers to serve their stories directly to Snapchat users within the app. Then they added in Lenses, which allowed users to add cutesy animations to the camera which reacted to their faces.
Last year, Snapchat changed it’s name to Snap, Inc, launched a pair of video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles and added Memories, which finally let users save content on their device.
And that brings us to today. The humble disappearing picture app has morphed into a video/picture/messaging/content-delivery/banking app with over 150 million daily users (more than Twitter!) and if their past history is any inclination, they won’t stop there, especially with IPO funding to back them up. Time to get on the Snapchat train!