What Snapchat’s latest hire suggests about its future plans

By on December 10, 2014

Snapchat is in an odd position – millions of people around the world have downloaded its app to their phone and many use it on a regular basis, yet its business model remains far from clear.

Fortunately, the deep pockets of its remarkably generous investors, which have put more than R1.1-billion into the company, give some room for innovation. Its coffers could also be swelled by a recent, rumoured investment round that is expected to value the company at as much as R132-billion.

With an eye on its future strategy, Snapchat announced it has poached Credit Suisse banker, Imran Khan, who will become its Chief Strategy Officer. This has fuelled rumours that the start-up is planning to focus on financial services as a primary source of income. It has already dipped a toe in to the water with the launch last month of Snapcash, which allows users to transfer money to each other.

It’s not hard to imagine people struggling to entrust their bank details to a company whose privacy policies have raised a few eyebrows; however, Snapchat has now partnered with the payments provider, Square, to make sure it’s all legit. With Khan on board, MT wonders if payments could become a bigger focus of the start-up, which has also experimented with small amounts of advertising as a means of income.

Khan’s appointment has also set tongues wagging about the possibility of a forthcoming IPO, which would be utterly remarkable given the app was only launched three years ago. He has form in this field, having managed the launch for Groupon, Alibaba, and King while at Credit Suisse.

Khan isn’t the first ‘grown up’ business executive recruited by Snapchat’s 24 year old founder, Evan Spiegel. Last year, Emily White, head of photo app Instagram’s operations, joined as Chief Operating Officer; and in September it landed Google communication’s Chief, Jill Hazelbaker, to head PR and public affairs.

Whatever he’s got planned, it’s clear that Spiegel is intent on turning Snapchat into a genuinely influential and successful player in the tech-world. For now, turning down that R33-billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore.

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