Snapchat is back in the news, with a new acquisition to fill their COO position. The company announced to AllThingsD that Emily White, a Facebook executive who oversees Instagram’s burgeoning advertising business, will be joining them as Chief Operating Officer. White’s main role will be creating a business model for Snapchat, using a mix of advertising and in-app purchases.
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth regarding Snapchat’s business prospects and valuation lately, after news broke that the company turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook. White’s hiring may signal a renewed interest from Snapchat in monetizing their service, and developing a revenue stream before moving ahead, towards a possible IPO. White will be assuming a 2nd-in-command position at the company, working directly with founder Evan Spiegel.
Before taking on the COO role at Snapchat, Emily White was the director of business operations at Instagram. She worked there with co-founder Kevin Systrom to develop an ad platform for the service. The first ad, from designer Michael Kors, was released in early November and resulted in over 34,000 new followers for the company. Today, Lexus, GE, and Ben & Jerry’s are set to launch their own ads.
Plenty of people remain skeptical of Snapchat’s long-term viability however, and their decision to pass on Facebook’s acquisition offer. Matt Asay at ReadWrite called a $3B valuation “utter silliness.” For many, it comes down to how they envision the future of communications. Is Snapchat just a passing fad, or will individuals increasingly communicate using a wide variety of apps, moving between the likes of Instagram, Snapchat, GroupMe, and WhatsApp depending on their setting? It’s not an easy question to answer, despite its long-reaching consequences for advertisers and brands. As we’ve covered before, a fractured audience is harder (and more expensive) to reach, than a unified one. Just last month Snapchat reported that over 400 million “snaps” are sent each day, meaning more photos pass through the messaging service than are uploaded to Facebook and Instagram combined.
As Snapchat does start moving towards an IPO, White will play a critical role in their success – or failure. Given that skepticism that initially surrounded both Facebook and Instagram’s plans to monetize, however, you may not want to bet against her.