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The Truth About Snapchat

This Column Will Self-Destruct in 10 Seconds, so Hurry Up and Read It!

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You've surely heard that disappearing-message app Snapchat recently spurned a reported $3 billion-ish buyout offer from Facebook, as well as a rumored investment from China's Tencent that would have valued it at $4 billion-esque, and maybe even a $4 billion-y acquisition bid from Google.

To all that I say: cheapskates, the lot of them!

Credit: Kelsey Dake

Today I'm announcing that I'm offering Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel 100 beeeeelllllion dollars for his app. (This offer is, of course, contingent on my securing convertible debt financing. Only one buyout allowed per household. Void where prohibited by law.)

I know what you're thinking: Simon, are you f---ing insane?

As always, my lawyer has advised me not to answer that question (he also asked me to ask you if you were raised in a barn with a mouth like that?), but I will note that I absolutely have done more than sufficient due diligence on this deal and I'm confident that as Snapchat's new CEO (once Evan is, you know, disappeared), I'll be able to dramatically accelerate the app's path to profitability.

In fact, just so you know I'm serious, I'm going to lay all the cards on the table. And then I will deftly allay your concerns.

Kidz Luvz Snapchatz!

Kids -- or at least teens and 20-somethings -- love Snapchat, so I love Snapchat, too. As The Wall Street Journal's Farhad Manjoo wrote recently, "The app doesn't make any money -- its executives have barely even mentioned any desire to make money -- but in the ad-supported tech industry, youth is the next best thing to revenue."

Granted, he also wrote, "If today's kids are Snapchatting instead of Facebooking, the thinking goes, tomorrow we'll all be Snapchatting, too, because tech habits, like hairstyles, flow only one way: young to old. There is only one problem with elevating young people's tastes this way: Kids are often wrong." He went on to point out that "the vast majority of your most-used things weren't initially popular among teens. The iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, the Google search engine, YouTube, Twitter, Gmail, Google Maps, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the Kindle, blogs, the personal computer, none of these were initially targeted to, or primarily used by, high-school or college-age kids."

To which I say: What the hell does Farhad Manjoo know? He's old!

'Disappear' May Be Too Strong a Word

Snapchat's main value proposition is that whole disappearing thing -- and the fact that if your recipients attempt to take screen shots of what you've sent them, Snapchat automatically notifies you. So if you're, say, Anthony Weiner, you'll henceforth know to stop Snapchatting pictures of your junk to that greedy, hoarding Snapchatee -- and (psych!) she'll have only one photo of your bits and tackle to sell to TMZ.

Except, um, there are all manner of workarounds -- like SnapCapture for Android ("The most popular solution for easy Snapchat saving … The sender of the Snapchats won't get notified.") See also: Snap-Hack Pro for iOS ("Top 10 social app in 59 countries"). See also: Snapchatleaked.com (definitely NSFW, so if you brave it, switch over to CuteLittleKittens.com afterward as an antidote).

To which I say: See where it says "the snap disappears" in the Snapchat product description? When I take over Snapchat, we're going to be changing that wording to "the snap sort of more or less disappears, kinda."

Underpromise, overdeliver, bro.

Snapchat is haunted by its messy birth

Snapchat was created by three -- or two, depending on whom you ask -- Stanford frat brothers in 2011.

According to Business Insider, "Reggie Brown first filed a lawsuit against Snapchat's two well-known co-founders, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, in February [2013]. Brown alleged that he was the third co-founder and that he deserved equity in Snapchat, which was already wildly popular." Notably, it seems everyone basically agrees that it was Reggie Brown who had the initial idea for a disappearing-message app. But, per BI, "Currently, Brown doesn't own any of Snapchat because he says his co-founders secretly created a new company that cut Brown out entirely, leaving Spiegel with 60% of Snapchat and Murphy with 40%."

Yawn. Simple solution: I plan to offer Reggie Brown 101 beeeeelllllion dollars -- which is, yes, a full beeeeelllllion dollars more than the current value of the company (based on my standing offer). But I believe that the resolution of this pesky little legal situation will immediately cause Snapchat's value to at least double or even triple, so I'll have more than enough money to pay Reggie to go away, and the settlement will end up being a win-win-win.

Or maybe just a win-win, because I plan to secretly cut either Bobby or Evan out of the deal. Please don't say anything to them, though.

Wait, you're not going to try to save a copy of this column, are you? Don't do that! You're not supposed to do that!

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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