Editor’s Note: Semil Shah works on product for Swell, is a TechCrunch columnist, and an investor. He writes at Haywire, and you can follow him on Twitter at @semil.
In many parts of Silicon Valley and the consumer technology world, the zeitgeist surrounding Snapchat is undeniably the talk of the town. In a way, it has been for most of 2013. I wrote a post on Snapchat’s rise in February 2013 and it generated an intense level of feedback. A seemingly small, unassuming outfit which builds a social, mobile application from the shores of Venice Beach, the company has grown into one of the world’s most dominant photo-sharing services, has reportedly turned down billions in acquisition offers from some of the world’s most powerful technology companies, and in a complex yet simple manner, continues to extend its brand as the hyper-growth symbol for the anti-web, anti-Facebook, anti-permanent network.
While few deny Snapchat’s growth and engagement, plenty are skeptical regarding the number of zeros tacked on to the company’s valuation as this year unfolded. Common refrains include “they have no revenue” and “it’s a frothy environment” and “it’s a bubble” and “they’re stupid for not selling and taking the money.” Yet, it wasn’t too long ago that another hyper-growth photo-sharing service was acquired for a handsome sum by one of the largest technology companies. At that time, a small chorus did want Instagram to remain independent to see if it could unseat Facebook. The majority of the crowd, however, realized that a team of under 15 could build a billion dollars worth of value in a few short years — “take the money and run.”