Evan Spiegel on the Way forward for Snapchat–and All of Social Media

Bikes scared people when they were first introduced, says Evan Spiegel. The lesson? Don’t be too quick to dismiss the usefulness of new technology.

Spiegel, CEO and co-founder of Snap, discussed the future of his company’s best-known product and the broader social media landscape at Fast Company’s Most Innovative Firms Summit on Tuesday. Snapchat has 265 million daily active users who send 5 billion snapshots a day. However, the company has expanded way beyond the disappearance of news to include new features like an interactive map, augmented and virtual reality, and a TikTok-like offering called Spotlight. Here are the technical innovations he expects to shape the social media industry and how we will interact with Snapchat and other platforms in the future.

Expanded reality

Snap introduced augmented reality glasses called Spectacles in 2016, but they didn’t do well. Today, Spiegel sees untapped potential in augmented reality with just one smartphone. For example, users can try on products and buy them on social apps, increasing conversions and “turning shopping into an experience that wasn’t really possible online in the past,” he says.

AR could also be “transformative” for education, says Spiegel. For example, it might get easier to learn about how the human body works – a big improvement over the trip to the morgue that Spiegel remembers from his school days.


Apple’s new privacy policy, which requires apps to ask permission to track users, could cut Facebook’s sales on the Audience Network by up to 50 percent and also hurt Snap’s profits, Spiegel says. Still, he claimed, users come first, and his company has foregone revenue over the years by dodging practices like microtargeting to improve user privacy so the change won’t be as dramatic.

Regarding the future of data protection, according to Spiegel, users have rejected the idea that companies are allowed to collect their information and are calling for more control. It sets up a unified framework that also gives people control over the various levels of data protection they prefer – a more advanced GDPR, the massive European Union data protection regulation that is responsible for the pop-ups you ask for cookies – would be best.

Short video and mapping

While everyone was stuck at home during the pandemic, Snap took the opportunity to make the map feature more interactive so people could not only follow their friends in Bitmoji form but also see which stores they liked or could even order to take away. Spiegel also promoted Spotlight, which he said challenged the company’s aversion to viral content but is now helping developers generate income and even repay student loans.

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