Snapchat hires Credit Suisse whizz as strategy chief
Picture-sharing platform shows signs of maturity by poaching seasoned investment guru Imran Khan
Growing tech firm Snapchat has added global negotiation and management clout to its relatively young executive team by poaching top banker Imran Khan from Credit Suisse. The move, which has raised eyebrows in both Wall Street and Silicon Valley, reflects the skyrocketing startup’s intentions to expand into a bona-fide corporation, like its rivals Facebook and Twitter.
Founded in 2011 by Reggie Brown, Bobby Murphy and CEO Evan Spiegel, the app – which allows users to send pictures that are automatically deleted 10 seconds after they are opened – has reported up to 700 million sends of photos and videos per day. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the outspoken Spiegel signalled aims to shed his “idiot frat boy” image by becoming a more “thoughtful” person. The hire suggests that the 24-year-old entrepreneur is seeking some in-house mentorship to help him achieve that aim.
Reporting directly to Spiegel, Khan will serve as the app’s first-ever chief strategy officer, as it seeks to monetise its popularity within the crucial teenage demographic. Snapchat’s early success has led to a fund injection from venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins and an eye-popping valuation of $10 billion. With a view to steering the firm safely through future challenges, Spiegel has mounted a concerted hiring effort to boost his top team, looking for vastly experienced professionals in finance, legal and marketing. Snapchat also has its eye on rival talent: last year, the firm hired Emily White from Instagram to be its COO.
That legal expertise may come in handy: over the summer, Snapchat’s security was questioned as user photos saved via third-party apps were hacked and posted on an online forum.
Khan’s involvement in the successful IPOs of consumer favourite Groupon, internet marketplace Alibaba and Candy Crush Saga makers King Digital will put Snapchat in a strong position to go public in the future, should it decide to.
Following a managing director stint at Morgan Stanley, Khan joined Credit Suisse to head up investments related to internet companies. His expertise of international markets, particularly China, could be a vital asset for Snapchat’s ambitions to become a global brand. However, the firm’s biggest initial challenge is to determine the best means of earning money while maintaining popularity – a common problem for app-based startups.
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