Snapchat launched as an ephemeral photo-sharing app, but business correspondence brought to light by the recent Sony hack reveal the company has no plans of disappearing anytime soon.
Along with information supporting reports that Snapchat did, indeed, turn down a $3 billion (or more!) acquisition offer from Facebook are a plethora of business messages that lay out the photo-sharing app’s long-term aspirations. Music and music videos, expanded payment services, a possible partnership with Twitter and even a Google Glass-like virtual-reality device all seem to be part of Snapchat’s plans to become a full-service platform.
Snapchat doesn’t want to be owned by Facebook. It wants to build its own Internet empire.
Plenty of people had a good laugh when Snapchat joined the mobile payments business in November with Snapcash. (Unlike some photos, nobody wants to see their money disappear!) Through its partnership with Square Cash, Snapchat allows users to transfer money between debit cards for participating Snapcash users.
Now emails between Snapchat, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, and Snapchat board member Mitch Lasky and published by TechCrunch show the company’s “super secret” aquisition of Scan.me, a QR code and iBeacon tech company. Such technology could allow people to buy things with their smartphones simply by scanning QR codes; it could also track potential customers in a store and alert them to nearby deals.
As TechCrunch points out, Snapchat has helped the careers of Goldroom, Vance Joy, and Strange Talk by featuring their music in promo videos that appeal to Snapachat’s music-hungry youth demographic. According to leaked Sony documents, TechCrunch reports:
(Snapchat CEO Evan) Spiegel met with Sony Music Entertainment’s President of Global Digital Business & US Sales in June and told him he was interested in bringing music to Snapchat. Kooker writes that Spiegel “thinks every music service in the market is shit and he wants to be a curator.” Snapchat’s CEO expressed interest in starting a record label and promoting the artists through Snapchat.
The documents also reveal talks between Vevo and Snapchat for music videos, which ultimately failed due to unrevolved revenue-sharing issues.
While Google Glass isn’t exactly tearing up the consumer electronics industry, many big companies in the tech business are still betting that some kind of virtual-reality or heads-up display will eventually emerge as a new form of user interface.
According to Sony documents posted by Business Insider, Snapchat appears to be putting its money—$15 million of it—on Vergence Labs, a startup that makes video-recording glasses called Epiphany Eyewear. Priced at $300 to $500 with varying amounts of storage, the glasses allow users to shoot surreptitious video, then upload it to computers and make stills from the footage.
There’s also an email to Sony CEO Lynton from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo discussing the possibility of an unspecified Twitter-Snapchat collaboration, in which Costolo also said he planned to ask his chief technical officer to help Snapchat “scale” its operations up.
And once you start discussing your platform with outside parties, all bets are off.
Lead image screencapped from a video by Casey Neistat