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How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story

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In the grand tradition of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires (2009)... an engaging look into a fascinating subculture of millions. --Booklist

Breezy...How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars ably if uncritically chronicles the short history of a young company catering to young users, with a young chief executive, and reveals, intentionally or not, the limitations that come with that combination. --Wall Street Journal

The improbable and exhilarating story of the rise of Snapchat from a frat boy fantasy to a multi-billion dollar internet unicorn that has dramatically changed the way we communicate.

In 2013 Evan Spiegel, the brash CEO of the social network Snapchat, and his co-founder Bobby Murphy stunned the press when they walked away from a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook: how could an app teenagers use to text dirty photos dream of a higher valuation? Was this hubris, or genius?

In How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, tech journalist Billy Gallagher takes us inside the rise of one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups. Snapchat developed from a simple wish for disappearing pictures as Stanford junior Reggie Brown nursed regrets about photos he had sent. After an epic feud between best friends, Brown lost his stake in the company, while Spiegel has gone on to make a name for himself as a visionary--if ruthless--CEO worth billions, linked to celebrities like Taylor Swift and his wife, Miranda Kerr.

A fellow Stanford undergrad and fraternity brother of the company's founding trio, Gallagher has covered Snapchat from the start. He brings unique access to a company Bloomberg Business called "a cipher in the Silicon Valley technology community." Gallagher offers insight into challenges Snapchat faces as it transitions from a playful app to one of the tech industry's preeminent public companies. In the tradition of great business narratives, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars offers the definitive account of a company whose goal is no less than to remake the future of entertainment.

304 pages, Hardcover

Published February 13, 2018

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About the author

Billy Gallagher

1 book11 followers
Billy Gallagher is the author of How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars, a February 2018 book chronicling Snapchat’s rise from dorm room idea to multi-billion dollar company.

He is an MBA candidate at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Previously, he was a member of the investment team at Khosla Ventures and a writer at TechCrunch, which he joined as a Stanford sophomore, writing a profile of a popular startup on campus: Snapchat. His writing has appeared in the New York Times and Playboy. He lives in Palo Alto.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 80 reviews
Profile Image for Tim O'Hearn.
249 reviews1,158 followers
June 11, 2019
Evidence that we're starting to run out of compelling titles for compelling books. If I was Billy Gallagher, I would have toyed with calling my book Ghosted, as that's what Evan Spiegel did to our poor author. And, well, you know--the Snapchat mascot is a ghost.

The story of Snap Inc. is pretty simple even if it is true that many adults have a hard time understanding the app that made it famous. The abridged version is this: 1. Evan's friend came up with an idea; 2. The idea worked; 3. Everyone thought it was for sexting; 4. It probably was for sexting; 5. Evan's friend who came up with the idea got booted; 6. Evan made a great call; 7. Evan made more great calls in an Odyssey of great calls; 7. Snapchat went public (I sold calls*).

The book's spirit wafts away once the author makes the unholy transition from privileged insider to shunned reporter. Maybe it is true that the second half of the book sucks but, as someone who doesn't pay much attention to tech news, the loss of color didn't really bother me. I would rather read a fun relevant book in 2019 than have to wait until I'm on my deathbed in fifteen years for some tool to tell me about how much of a Jobs-esque genius Evan Spiegel is. Maybe they'd even use words like "perspicacious" to describe him.

This is good work that seldom makes you wish you could lift your finger up and have it vanish.

* This is a joke
Profile Image for Tony.
154 reviews44 followers
March 5, 2018
The rise of Snapchat is a conceptually interesting story, especially when viewed through the lens of the app (and company) being a deliberate anti-Facebook. The author, who knew the founders personally, and also writes for Techcrunch, in some ways should be a good choice to tell the tale… but it turns out that he does a pretty bad job of it. This swings wildly between hagiography and info-dump, and, if anything, the shared background leads him to skip much too quickly over all the nastiest frat-bro elements of the story, which drip out with nary a raised eyebrow throughout the early part of the book, and culminate in only a couple of pages on the leaked emails fiasco, before quickly segueing back into the almost inevitable feud over ownership and credit rights amongst the founders.

This is a shame because Gallagher does a good job of getting to the heart of lots of issues around public image curation, ephemerality vs permanence, private vs social etc, and provides a compelling argument for why even when Facebook/Instagram/etc have tried offering what appears be essentially the same functionality, their entire philosophical underpinning is so wildly different that, if anything, they’ve strengthened Snap’s position, more than damaging it. And maybe if this had been published even 12–18 months ago, the “Evan is perhaps the greatest tech visionary around today, so let’s quickly skip over these dark parts of the story” approach might have been more plausible (if still misguided). But to publish this in early 2018, seemingly tone-deaf to the current narratives around tech-culture in general, and its bro-culture specifically (especially in light of the eventual fall of Travis Kalanick at Uber), makes it difficult to read without wondering how much better a book this could have been in the hands of an author less blinded by hero-worship, and more willing to dig into the much more difficult questions around whether these companies succeeded despite or because of these issues.
Profile Image for Zak.
406 reviews28 followers
February 28, 2018
Decent coverage on the birth and growth of Snapchat right up to its IPO. The first half was fascinating as we learn how the idea of "ephemerality" as a direct counter to then-prevailing social media's permanence came about and was given form by the young and driven founders. I had always assumed people wanted their social media posts, photos and videos to be permanent, since they spent so much time on curating the "perfect life", but it seems people also want a space where they can just goof around and be their real (perhaps uglier) selves without worrying that it will come back and haunt them in their later lives. Learning about this aspect and how Snapchat expended great efforts to avoid being another Facebook was the most illuminating part about this book.

The second part which goes into the evolution of Snapchat as it unveiled new products and tried to monetise its user base was a bit dry. Not to say that the information wasn't useful but I have a feeling it could have been done in a more engaging way. One does have to take into account that Snapchat's founders did not agree to be involved at all with this book, so I think the lack of personal anecdotes from them did have an impact on the second half.

Final rating: 3.75*
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,390 reviews2,278 followers
July 11, 2018
Shockingly good

“When everyone is tired and the night is over, who stays and helps out? Because those are your true friends. Those are the hard workers, the people that believe that working hard is the right thing to do.”

I didn't know I needed to read the story of Snapshot until I started reading this book and I am so happy I did- WOW.

I remember hearing about Snapchat from my friend and thinking- "UGH! Another social media app to learn and download". Once I got my tutorial I honestly wasted a good amount of time on that app. I called it my "Rant App" where if anyone pissed me off I went on Snapchat and rant! I feel like I've been through all of Snapchat's highs and lows- from the Major Key era to now, it being deleted from my phone. I can't say today I know anyone who currently uses the app... Its sad to watch it die a slow death. I am pretty sure Billy Gallagher will need to write another book to follow up this one.

Reading this book was like getting a behind the scene look into your favorite app. Working in Digital Advertising this book really was interesting on higher level because it gave me an inside look on how other platforms go about their advertising policies.

This book tells the story of snapchat, even if you've never used snapchat, this book does an amazing job of keeping you interested and telling the very solid story behind that yellow ghost!
Profile Image for Maran Subramaniam.
Author 2 books11 followers
March 4, 2019
The word “ephemeral”, comes up very often in Billy Gallagher’s “How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story”, because just as Facebook honed in to the human need to connect and socialize and capitalized on it, Snapchat gets relevant as it became increasingly clear what is posted on today's social media lives forever in one form or another – a scary enough thought to the current generation of digital natives who potentially understands more of its long term implications than their parents’ generation ever did. If anything, the book is an eye-opening account on “what the kids are doing with their cell phones these days?” that parents often ask aloud.

As in everything that became huge beyond comparison, Snapchat took its time to slowly occupy that precious space on everyone’s smartphone. The mind-boggling aspect of this is that unlike Facebook and Twitter’s ubiquity when it went mainstream, Snapchat completely skipped one generation to the extent that many early adopters of Facebook / Instagram / Twitter didn’t even know such an app existed, and when they did find out about it, could not see the point! This then, is what generation gap looks like in today’s world: Those who turn to Facebook (and its contemporaries like Instagram, and to a certain extent, Twitter) for their social networking needs versus those who have come to shun the ridiculously permanent nature of such platforms, preferring something more ephemeral instead. In short, the book details how Snapchat literally transformed communication using the mobile phone’s camera. The bitter truth is that if one could not imagine or understand how this is even possible, one clearly belongs to the older “Facebook / Twitter” generation!

Shunned as nothing more but a safe “sexting” app when it was first introduced (messages / images sent via Snapchat are timed and disappears without trace once viewed), Snapchat’s founder Evan Spiegel had the vision, creativity, discipline, connections and the ruthlessness to take both the app and the company to a higher level, and this book presents the reader with that very journey right from the app’s conception up until the time the company went public. As with any successful start-ups from Silicon Valley, Snapchat’s story is filled with feuds between the initial founders, lawsuits, acquisitions, one-upmanship (notably the one involving Mark Zuckerberg) along with interesting innovations (as an experienced Facebook / Instagram user one might be surprised to note that a lot of the changes or updates that both these apps rolled out recently owes its beginning to Snapchat). Continuous innovation was instrumental in keeping people using Snapchat and helped greatly in sustaining its popularity longer than anyone initially thought possible.

Written by Billy Gallagher who did share a brief friendship with Evan at Stamford, the book also importantly contains an interesting look into Silicon Valley’s start-up culture (especially on what makes Stanford University such a fertile ground for disruptive innovation) along with an engaging section (in Chapter 4) that looks into one other promising start-up which didn’t quite make it – Lucas Duplan’s “Clinkle” (a “would-have-been-revolutionary” mobile payments company). The author provided an interesting analysis on why Lucas’s venture failed spectacularly, presenting inside information on multiple counts of delayed decision-making, misguided attempts at maintaining secrecy and his inability to comprehend market trends, all of which contributed to the company’s eventual downfall.

The book's ultimate message is that just by having one great idea is not enough to succeed. It takes imagination to push further ahead and to have the unflinching willpower to believe in one’s own potential so much, that even when one of the richest man in the world knocks on your door (multiple times) with an offer of more than a billion dollars, one has the tenacity and confidence to say no.
Profile Image for Amanda.
97 reviews7 followers
November 8, 2018
This book feels like a Backstage Pass to all things Snapchat Drama. I loved the mix of narrative, business, and investigative reporting.
Profile Image for Thai Son.
180 reviews51 followers
May 21, 2018
Dry writing, partly because it's the author's first book. Some details are merely listed because author did not bother connecting the dots. Book has been criticized for being not detailed enough. It's good for me, more would be too into juicy distractive things.

And more importantly book inspired me to take active measures to disconnect from facebook.
Profile Image for Nathan.
10 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2021
I’d describe this book as a comprehensive account for Snapchat’s maturation and feature development. The descriptions of Evan and other characters feel like the author is trying to be deep and insightful, but it’s hard to shake the author’s bias towards Evan and/or the company (and/or Kappa Sigma - Evan and the author’s shared fraternity). Occasionally, it even feels like the author is vilifying Facebook and Snapchat’s detractors and not holding Evan accountable. This missing accountability felt especially noticeable in the author’s missing discussions of Evan’s dynamics with most (if not all, save Reggie) characters.

I’m glad I read this book because I personally had some interesting takeaways (especially in the product design space) and I did appreciate some of the anecdotes. In particular, I thought the dichotomy of a company owning product experience (a la Jobs or Spiegel) vs. a company allowing for others to build on itself was especially eye-opening. Subtler takeaways for me that weren’t discussed were 1) the role privilege can play in bootstrapping a company, and 2) the power of your college network.

Generally, I wasn’t a fan of the writing. The last 20-30% of the book was a drag to read with never-ending rhetorical questions which blurred the author’s musings with what a character may have been grappling with real-time. The organization felt poor - a timeline likely would have been easier to navigate. And as I mentioned, the author’s objectivity felt suspect. Despite what I felt to be poor writing, this book was a quick read. I definitely put down the book feeling a greater deal of respect and appreciation for Snapchat and Spiegel.
8 reviews2 followers
July 29, 2018
Two companies started in Stanford in 2011. Clinkle and Snapchat.

Clinkle was called revolutionary, brilliant and was funded $30 million in seed by Peter Thiel, Richard Branson and other Silicon Valley big shots.

Snapchat was called weird, was a dud when it released, and people dismissed it as a stupid and silly app that no one used for more than an year. After an year Clinkle crashed and burned and Snapchat soared.

This book is about Snapchat, and this is a brilliant read into Social Networking. The ruthlessness of Zuckerberg, persistence of Evan and the brilliant narration by author on not just Snapchat but also social networking, advertisements, silicon valley, the design principles behind companies and how they shape the product.

I finished the entire book in two sittings. This is that good!
Profile Image for Maciej Gajewski.
31 reviews
August 10, 2021
Clean and interesting analysis of Snapchat’s phenomenon.

I think that the author has done a pretty good job explaining what made Snapchat different from other social media. It's not a perfect book, as some parts have a dry writing style and the second part of the book is less entertaining than the first one, but still, it was an engaging read.
I wish that this book was published a while later (it would be interesting to read a newer version of it, given how the social media landscape has changed) & that author would point out Snapchat’s shortcomings in a more direct way. The author believed that Snapchat would be big and that that's why the book lacked a more distanced view at times.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and it's worth recommending to anyone who wants to get a better understanding of the social media scene.

Rating: 3.75
Profile Image for Kay.
90 reviews7 followers
October 31, 2022
Oh my god this is the worst book on tech I have read to date.

This could be a really interesting and exciting story to read but this author is drier than sandpaper. The writing of this book reminds me of a meal without seasoning. Maybe not even salt. It feels like a book report for school. You are better off reading the wikipedia page to learn about Snapchat's founding. Maybe the only interesting tidbit I was able to find in here and nowhere else reputable was confirmation that Evan and Taylor Swift dated lol (or at least appeared together for PR events). It ends on such a random note--spectacles. Why not go more into the IPO itself?

Some interesting insights that explain a lot of the company culture and Evan's behavior today. Now I understand a lot better as a former employee why Evan can really dig his heels into resisting doing what seems like common sense for other consumer social apps. Snapchat has had a history of major big wins by being the antithesis of what users consider "natural" or expected on other social media apps (like having a straight forward follow <-> follow back network graph...). It's crazy to read how big Snapchat got in so many ways when it was so convoluted to find and share content and users. A lot of what made Snapchat succeed even with these "unintuitive" user interfaces resonates a lot with what I think makes TikTok distinctive (the anonymity back in the day and being more challenging than other platforms to track down content) and I think this calls out a trend that younger generations value a bit of "secrecy" or at least don't want to be easily found or tracked.
Profile Image for Manas Saloi.
275 reviews691 followers
May 30, 2020
I am rating this 5 and not 4, because I really liked how the author pointed out the different path that Snapchat took to grow to where it is now. I did not just learn Snapchat's history but also how it used trade-offs (one of porter's strategy tests) as part of its strategy
Profile Image for Bayuu Haikalson.
124 reviews2 followers
October 16, 2021
Seingat aku pernah download Snapchat semasa hari raya dekat rumah Intan sebab adik dia, Si Teq cakap filter dalam Snapchat lagi lawa. Itu sahaja kenangan aku dengan Snapchat.

Aku tak tahu pun yang idea asal, Filter, Story, Live, dan Memories semua asal dari Snapchat. Evan Spiegel so smart..!

Tapi aku suka “ayat-ayat cinta” dari Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom ini.

Gmail was not the first email client. Google Maps was certainly not the first map. The iPhone was definitely not the first phone. The question is what do you with that format? What do you do with that idea? Do you build on it? Do you add new things? Are you trying to bring it in a new direction?

Tapi yang sedih nya idea asal Snapchat bukan nya dari Evan Spiegel. Tapi datangnya dari Bobby Murphy.

Anyway thank you for Billy Gallagher, you writing was so clear and easy to understand. Thank you.
Profile Image for Alex Devero.
540 reviews53 followers
June 19, 2018
Billi Galagher does a good job of covering the rise of Snapchat. The story begins with Evan's childhood, proceeds to college years and continues to his first startup ideas and experiments followed by the idea of Snapchat, then Picaboo. Billy ends the story of Snapchat with IPO, transforming Snapchat into Snap Inc. and releasing its first physical product–the spectacles. The whole story of Snapchat, and the book itself, is divided into two parts. First part is about the idea of Snapchat and its humble beginnings. The second part explores the rise and growth of Snapchat as a company. It focuses on Snapchat's new products and first tries to monetize its user base. This book will not blow your mind. Some of its parts will seem dull and dry. However, it is still a good read.

My biggest takeaway was that experimentation, relentless product innovation and focus on users are important for company's success. Evan and his team were always willing to take risks and try new ideas to make their product better.
Profile Image for Sandy Lu.
82 reviews357 followers
May 15, 2018
Some authors should never narrate their own book. This author sounds like a college frat boy--slurring his words like he's on something or had food in his mouth, oftentimes even bored with his own material. It took incredible will power and a lot of wincing to finish listening. Leave it to the professionals next time, please.
Profile Image for Naomi.
453 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2018
Disclaimer: I received this book for free through a Goodreads' giveaway.

Evan Spiegel is difficult (I'd lean towards impossible) to like, and How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars makes that even clearer. The author, Billy Gallagher, shares his insider perspective on Snapchat (he knew Spiegel and others involved with the start-up in the early years at Stanford) and combines it with quotes from interviews, publicized documents (whether by choice or through hacks), and more to paint the picture of Snapchat as it is today.

Except it already reads as dated, despite only being published earlier this year. I say this because of recent scandals involving Snapchat, specifically the horrible ad exploiting Rihanna. I'm curious to see how Spiegel will continue to handle the backlash, but if it's at all like he's dealt with other criticisms in the past, then I'd bet he'll handle it badly. I'm also curious to see what direction Snapchat/Snap Inc. will go in next, and whether or not it will remain relevant today. I used the app for a couple of years, but have since deleted it and many people I know, including former prolific users, have as well (I'm 30, and my friend/acquaintance group includes people in their mid-twenties to late-thirties, so some definitely a bit older than the original target group).

A big issue I have with this book is Gallagher. I was excited to read an insider's perspective, but I agree with some other reviewers in that it detracts from the story rather than adds to it. Half the time, Gallagher seems like he's upset about no longer being invited to Snapchat's parties or granted interviews by Spiegel, which makes his credibility or objectivity questionable. Also, I understand the need (or at least convenience) of using anonymous sources, but I wish there was more of an indicator of what information came from them (of course, since they're anonymous, this would have to be done carefully). The research and information overall is interesting, and I'm glad to know a bit more about Snapchat, but the execution could be better.

If Gallagher writes more articles about Snapchat, I would consider reading them, as I'd like to see how he covers it in the future. However, the only people I would recommend this book to are those specifically interested in Snapchat, social media, and related topics.
Profile Image for Michal.
8 reviews
June 2, 2020
I was curious what's the idea behind the book. First I was a little bit disappointed when I read the main person associated with Snapchat didn't want to participate in creating this book. Especially when the author claimed he knew Evan when Snapchat was born. Will the 'not so good' relationship (which I suspected at the beginning) influence the story?

Some parts of the book are engaging, some make you feel bored. Stories about Stanford student's activities and parties - I wanted to skip the chapters. But when I started to read about the origins of Snapchat - it pulled me in. There's a great comparison with another startup - Cinkle, which developed a 'perfect app' hidden from everyone. How did it end? Just answer yourself - have you ever heard about Cinkle?

We get a decent, chronological description of steps of growing the business, and even if it fits my imagination how startup usually conquers the world - I really liked that part. A lot of details about difficulties and roadblocks along the way and how Snapchat strived to push forward, reject any attempts to be swallowed by bigger players, and constantly improved itself to make users happier.

And for me, the best outcome is the grasp of the general idea, what's behind those 'silly photos which will disappear after en seconds". I must confess: I'm not a Snapchat user. But I was convinced by Evan's concept of the ephemeral nature of people's communication and how he wanted to remind it to people tied to making their life perfect on Facebook and Instagram.
Profile Image for Jay French.
2,035 reviews74 followers
March 25, 2019
Another book on a tech high-flyer written by an author that doesn’t have access to key sources within the company he’s profiling. Gallagher was frat-related to the founders and early employees of Snapchat, but lost his access when he began writing for Silicon Valley media. The story felt a lot like “The Accidental Billionaires”, heavy on frat mores and stories in the beginning, and putting the founder on a pedestal at the end. The remaining founder, Evan Spiegel, comes off by the end of the book as a frat version of Steve Jobs.

I liked what Gallagher covers, up to a point. Snapchat is an interesting story. But without access to key personnel, the story at times sounds like mildly jazzed up financial press releases. I believe the “completeness” of the story could have been trimmed out, making this more readable. I listened to the audiobook version of this, narrated by the author. The author has a way of speaking and pronunciation that I found challenging to follow at times. In this case, listening at a faster playback rate helped, but I still missed occasional words. Overall, I found the stories of this tech unicorn -- Snapchat -- to be quite entertaining as business history anecdotes, but despite some great reporting of Snapchat becoming a media competitor, I didn’t get other levels of perspective and analysis that I feel are part of the story.
Profile Image for Gregg R..
184 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2018
I read a couple books a week, and the last two weeks have definitely altered my perception of the business landscape. Two weeks ago I read The Upstarts - How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World. Last week I read The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. Today I finished this book about Snapchat. Facebook, Google, and Amazon now seem like the behemoths of yesteryear. While they are obviously still tech industry titans, this book clearly details how they are giving way to newcomers like Evan Spiegel the young founder of Snapchat. Evan intuitively understands the problems with current technology and social norms and has built a company around finding real solutions to how we communicate and connect in our world. My daughter turned 13 last saturday and I’ll turn 40 in a couple months. This book honestly made me feel like I’m getting old, but I’m installing Snapchat this morning so I can communicate more with my teenage daughter.
March 18, 2019
This is a story of Snapchats rise to stardom and the many challenges faced along the way.
It starts with how a random idea of disappearing images labeled good for sexting was transformed into a safe haven for young generation to express freely. It also talks about how Snapchat being a Los Angeles based company takes its inspiration from Hollywood rather than Silicon valley to ensure there is entertainment quotient built into app. Additionally, we learn about Evan a Stanford student turned CEO obsessed with making snapchat the most engaging platform by taking every decision from users standpoint rather than revenue generation (ads) standpoint.
Overall, the author a former acquaintance of Evan does a good job describing events in the formative years of Snapchat all the way till its IPO.
Profile Image for Anirudh Jain.
124 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2020
Quick Description: This book chronicles the story of Evan Spiegel and the creation of Snapchat in spite of the incredible odds of hacks, acquisition offers by facebook, media scrutiny and a vindictive ex-employee.

Review: The author is a tech journalist hence the following book is meticulously researched, presented in a palatable flow and was true to the timelines. The author is an alumnus of Stanford has an insight had some sort of fanboy praise for Evan. So a lot of scandals of Snapchat were brushed lightly which was a negative pointer for me. He does portray Evan as the second coming of Steve Jobs, stating his superhuman powers to get into people's heads. I wanted to see a more objective view of the person rather than a fanboy filtered lens. But none the less this is a valiant book and offers insight into the human mind and internet which I could not have gotten anywhere else.
182 reviews
June 2, 2018
The story of Snapchat, a unicorn out of Stanford, told through the eyes of a Stanford alumni who was at Stanford at the same time as Evan Spiegel the main force behind Snapchat: you already know what to expect. The golden boys of Silicon Valley (although transplanted to LA), an unlikely success among all who come up with great ideas and few succeed. Linear story without too much depth. Written like a business school case study.
The interesting part is probably the way they look at the product and the perseverance in innovation and coming up with new products. Success probaly came from the focus on the customer and keeping them engaged: well, anybody who has done any marketing would know but Evan Spiegel obviously has succeeded pretty well.
Really not a required reading.
Profile Image for Petr Bela.
110 reviews20 followers
July 20, 2018
This is an excellent book about product thinking, the Internet, and the future of communication. Despite its catchy title, it doesn't really spend much time on the lawsuits and acquisition talks; instead, it documents the rise of Snapchat and Evan Spiegel from the "sexting" Stanford experiment into a multi-billion public company that shapes the way we talk to each other. More than anything else, it focuses on the product itself: why it exists, what needs does it solve, how new features are being prototyped and evaluated. Billy Gallagher, Evan's friend from Stanford who has been covering Snapchat since the early days, managed to write a book that's not only highly enjoyable; it captures the spirit of the youngest billionaire founder and the product of his making.
70 reviews
August 31, 2018
One of the biggest take a ways for me was that change will make your business or even you last. Even we have to spend more time learning new skills, since the internet is allowing us to increase our business in ways we never expected. Another take a way was to not just concentrate on your major in college. Plan on learning skills in different areas like fundraising, design and writing to gain better opportunities.

I definitely recommend college students and business students to read this book. This book gives you the good and bad of developing a business. It is an intense read but its so worth it because you will be much more knowledgeable when you have read the book. Give it a chance.
Profile Image for Monika Mikowska.
12 reviews10 followers
April 8, 2019
Reading stories of other entrepreneurs or companies is always very inspirational. Billy Gallagher did pretty good job on being as impartial as possible. Irrespectively, I don’t think if all threads were unspoiled by author’s own interpretations. Moreover, I have a feeling that many threads were abandoned or insufficiently described. I would love to hear Evan’s point of view to have a full perspective. Apart from that, I collected a few important take outs from this book (do a lot experiments, kill fast the ones that are not fully satisfying, be discreet, do not communicate anything until is not ready for the launch). If you are building your own company, this book is worth reading.
Profile Image for Ataf Fazledin Ahamed.
12 reviews21 followers
October 28, 2021
I took upon this book after finishing reading "The Accidental Billionaires" (the book about Facebook). In this book, I was finding the same detailed level of rivalry story between Evan and Reggie- but I couldn't.

Well, I would have given this book a 4-star only it wasn't too lengthy. The first 10-15 chapters took me almost one year to read. The story goes so slow that you do not want to continue. However, when you reach the end, the story, journey of SnapChat starts to become interesting- you start to relate your social media persona along with the philosophies described in the book. And then, you finish it overnight.
Profile Image for Tom Maxwell.
13 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2018
The first half of this book provides a real insiders look at Snapchat in its early days. The book is worth a read for that, definitely. The second half, however, is straight reporting on every new product released up to Snap's IPO and its attempts to monetize the app. There really isn't any unique insight here and if you've been following Snapchat in the media there's nothing new in the second half of this book. It's obvious the point at which Gallagher lost touch with Spiegel based on how dry this book becomes.
Profile Image for LPL Staff Reviews.
221 reviews12 followers
June 8, 2018
This book provided wonderful insight as to how Snapchat was made, and the thinking behind all of the updates they do, and why they do them. The first half of the book was really interesting as it talked about the idea behind Snapchat and Evan's personality. Towards the end, it got a little more dry, but still very informative. I will say though, that if you don't use Snapchat, it may be hard to visualize some of the features that the author talks about in the book.

Alex F.
Mahon Library

Lubbock Public Library Call #: 384.38 GALL
Profile Image for Bridget.
154 reviews11 followers
December 4, 2018
I have not been a Snap Chat user in years but I couldn't get myself to delete the app. After knowing the story behind the company, I truly admire it and will continue to use / support it - Evan is someone I can get behind, especially in a world where Facebook acquires everyone and everything.

I think people need to shed the view of this app as a sexting app - it is so much more and represents the anti-social media that Instagram seems to represent. I guess I just wish that it was sold that way more - the branding of the app could really use a push.
Profile Image for Cindy.
889 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2019
3.6. An interesting look at the origins of Snap Inc. For older people it helpfully explains why the interface is so confusing and there is no tutorial: it was designed to be something passed along from friend to friend a la “How did you do that? Can you show me?” The author did not have complete access to behind-the-scenes details although he was invited to one of the Venice Beach NYE parties (notably the one Taylor Swift attended) where phones were collected at the door (no Snapchatting is allowed at Snapchat parties...go figure).
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