Can Snap’s Executive Shakeup Bring The Company Back To Growth?

It’s been a tough year for Snap, as its stock tanks and its executive team flees the ship.

Despite growing revenue 43% in Q3 to a record $298 million, Snap’s stock hit an all-time low in September of $10 per share. Snapchat is also bleeding daily active users after rolling out an unpopular redesign and facing increasing competition from Instagram.

“Snap is struggling to grow,” said Jessica Liu, senior analyst at Forrester. “It has a hazy vision on how to break out beyond the under-30 demographic, beyond attempting a disastrous redesign earlier this year, in a very crowded landscape.”

As investors have soured on Snap over the past year, a handful of its high-profile executives have departed.

Most recent is Nick Bell, Snap’s VP of content, who led the effort to build Snapchat’s Discover section and relationships with major media partners, as well as its original content. Prior to that, Imran Khan – Snap’s chief strategy officer, who spearheaded the company’s development of programmatic tools – left the company in September.

Snap Chief Financial Officer Drew Vollero departed in May. VP of Sales Jeff Lucas, a high-profile Viacom executive, left in February. And VP of Product Tom Conrad exited in January.

Beyond investor skepticism, Snap employees complain of management problems. A September Wired article describes Snap CEO Evan Spiegel as suffering from founder’s syndrome, or “when a company simply outgrows the ability of the founder and entrepreneur to scale, and he or she fails to let go and get outside help to run the business.”

Bloomberg and The Information published similar reports of Spiegel’s secretive culture and dictatorial management style. Snap’s unpopular redesign, which has cost the company both users and revenue since its broad roll out Q1, was in part a result of those management issues.

The executive departures, however, may not be related to Snap’s performance but rather a reflection of the company’s maturity, said Noah Mallin, head of experience, content and partnerships at Wavemaker.

“Companies in this space need different executives at different stages,” he said. “Nick [Bell] was able to create impressive content partnerships for Snap at a time when it was desperately needed, and the Discover section he spearheaded was an entry point for a lot of brands.”

With a new executive team on board – including former Huffington Post CEO Jared Grusd, who replaced Khan as chief strategy officer, and ex-Amazon global head of sales Jeremy Gorman, who joined as chief business officer in October – Snap will have to set a clear vision and strategy for getting back to growth.

“Now Snap has to figure out its next act,” Mallin said. “What does it want to be when it grows up?”

 

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