Sleazy Fratboy Billionaire: Is the CEO of Snapchat the Worst Man in Tech?

Posted by Mark Stone

“I’m obviously mortified and embarrassed,” he said, as the future billionaire’s extremely offensive emails from his frat boy days were leaked.

Nope, we’re not talking about a politician. The horrifying story you’re about to read comes to us courtesy of Evan Spiegel, CEO of the super popular app Snapchat. The tech world was abuzz Wednesday when the website Valleywag published a series of emails authored by Spiegel in 2009, when he was a prominent frat member of Stanford University's Kappa Sigma chapter.

You can check out a gallery of screenshots depicting the emails in question here, but the executive summary of what’s on display covers topics such as: peeing on women, doing blow, drinking underage, getting his friends laid by wasted “sororisluts”, and shooting lasers at “fat chicks.” Not only are the emails disturbing in terms of subject matter, but the spelling and grammar are atrocious.

In a statement to Techcrunch, Spiegel stated, “I’m obviously mortified and embarrassed that my idiotic emails during my fraternity days were made public. I have no excuse. I’m sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them. They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.” What else is he going to say? Admit that he’s a misogynistic misfit?

If one were to play the devil’s advocate here, you might chalk this up as typical 18-year-old frat boy behaviour. Nevertheless, this was only 5 years ago. I don’t know about you, guys, but between 18 and 23 I didn't really grow up all that much. The universally accepted theory of human developmental psychology says that none of us really come into our own until at least 25. This guy may be different, but it’s highly unlikely.

Jordan Crook, tech writer for the Techcrunch website, has developed a working relationship with Spiegel over the past few years. Crook’s take on the situation - in case you were still on the fence about whether the Snapchat CEO’s emails may be taken out of context - is telling. “To me,” Crook writes, “These emails are a final delineation between the man who is running an incredibly interesting business and the boy who never learned to respect women, or other human beings, for that matter… dude’s kind of a dick.”

Not to mention greedy. Remember, this is also the guy that reportedly turned down a $3 billion dollar offer from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to buy the company. Maybe it’s just me, but if someone offered me a cheque with nine zeros at the end I don’t care how much I think my company is worth in the future - I’m taking that money. But “greedy” is probably the adjective that Spiegel’s character (or PR person) is least worried about right now.

I don’t know what’s worse... the fact that these emails represent the collective attitude towards women in the boy’s club mentality pervasive through Silicon Valley, or that Snapchat’s board and venture capitalists will predictably turn a blind eye in hopes this diminishes over time so the company can live up to its current $2 billion valuation. In light of Monday’s horrific shooting in Santa Barbara, it seems like misogyny is unfortunately alive and well, and these leaked emails are just another conspicuous example of what is wrong with the society’s (not so silent) war on women.

Guys like Spiegel will refer to their indiscretions - especially when caught - as things of the past. But we all know that it’s highly unlikely that their views have matured much. Is it too much to ask that they be fed - A Clockwork Orange style - a 24-hour visual diet comprised solely of the #YesAllWomen tweet stream? They may not change their ways, but at least they’ll learn something.

Or perhaps not. I’ve written about many troubling tech issues this year, but on a scale of 1 to We’re-F**cked-As-A-Society none of them compare to the disturbing notion that guys like Spiegel represent the future of entrepreneurial success in technology. Not cool.

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Mark Stone

Mark Stone

Before switching careers to writing, Mark spent many years in information technologywearing several hats, including five years as an Information Security Analyst with the provincial government in Manitoba. When Mark moved to Kelowna, he began writing columns about information security and realized he had a knack for writing. Mark wrote a fiction novel, which was published in 2008, and was also... more




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