Spiegel, who doesn’t often talk about the company’s strategies or his personal life, showed off a new side to himself and the company at Snap’s first ever Partner Summit on Thursday.
Dressed in typical Silicon Valley attire — in this case, a black hoodie, black jeans and bright white sneakers — the Snap CEO wandered freely around the Los Angeles-based event, which highlighted new product and business announcements. Spiegel mingled with attendees, mostly developers, press, advertisers and content partners, and tested out some of Snapchat’s latest augmented reality features in its demo areas.
Unlike many executives at major tech companies, he made himself accessible to the crowds without a pack of handlers.
The openness mirrored changes happening at his company, which has long been considered a walled garden. Snapchat doesn’t have a news feed where users can share outside links or content. Everything has taken place within the confines of the app, and publishers who want to create content must be vetted and approved by Snap’s team.
Snap also announced a new feature called App Stories that allows Snapchat users to post videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours to other sites and apps for the first time. This means Snapchat users will be able to post a Story directly to their Tinder profile, starting this summer. The move could encourage more users to post Stories, or sign up for the Snapchat app.
“Stories are an engaging way to experience content and to gain a closer, more authentic connection with the person or entity behind that content,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer. “So for Snapchat to extend stories outside of its app’s walls makes it easier for people to engage with it even when they aren’t on Snapchat.”
Snap is dealing with stagnant user growth and heightened competition from Instagram, which has been successful in mimicking some of Snapchat’s most popular features. Instagram’s version of Stories recently hit 500 million daily users compared to Snapchat’s 186 million total daily users. Snap is looking for new ways to attract users and boost brand awareness and engagement. This week’s announcements could help.
Spiegel used Thursday’s event to broadcast some of the company’s priorities and strategies not only to investors but to its users.