Snapchat is a mobile photo and video messaging application for Apple iOS and Google Android devices which allows its users to create and share photo or video messages that are only accessible for a short period of time. For each message, the sender can set a time limit (up to 10 seconds) for how long the message can remain visible to its recipient, after which it is deleted from the device and Snapchat’s servers.
In April 2011, Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy began working on the application for a project in one of Spiegel’s product design classes. In July of that year, the program was named “Picaboo” and launched for iOS devices. In September, the app was re-released under the name “Snapchat," and in late October, Snapchat became available for Android mobile devices.
On October 29th, 2012, the tech news blog TechCrunch reported that SnapChat had received $485,000 in seed funding from the Lightspeed Ventures venture capital firm. In February of 2013, Snapchat announced it had received $13.5 million in Series A funding led by the firm Benchmark Capital, further raising the company’s market value from $60 to $70 million. On April 16th, 2013, the tech news blog Mashable quoted Spiegel saying they are looking into advertising as a means of revenue.
The primary function of the app is to create multimedia messages known as “snaps,” which may consist of a photo or a video with captions, filters and other special effects, and share them either privately with select individuals or semi-publicly as “stories.” In private messaging, the snaps become inaccessible once they’re read by the recipients and/or after a specific length of time (1 to 10 seconds) has lapsed. Despite the ephemeral design of the snaps, users can still take screenshots prior to their deletion.
Friends can be added via usernames and phone contacts, using customizable “Snapcodes”, or through the “Add Nearby” function, which scans for users near their location who are also in the Add Nearby menu.
In contrast to Snapchat’s private messaging mode, the “Story” mode allow users to share snaps in a chronological timeline that can be viewed by any of their friends for a 24-hour period. In addition, the “Live Story” mode allows any Snapchat users on-location at certain events, such as live concerts or sporting events, to contribute snaps in a publicly shared timeline.
Snapchat’s Lens filters allow its users to add real-time effects into their snaps by using face detection technology which is activated by long-pressing on a face within the viewfinder.
On February 25th, 2013, the LA Times reported that South Carolina resident Frank Reginald Brown IV had filed a lawsuit against the Snapchat founders to have “his rights restored” after being pushed out of the company. In the complaint, Brown claimed to have worked on the app during the summer of 2011, purportedly naming the application “Picaboo” and designing the company’s smiling ghost mascot "Ghostface Chillah,” a reference to the Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah.