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Everyone has a different definition of a role model. For me, role models always follow their passions, overcoming challenges, temptations, and controversies.

Evan Spiegel

Evan Spiegel at TechCrunch 2

Evan Spiegel is the name I put down for every college application that asked me about my role model. This 1990-born Stanford-dropout founded Snapchat with his fellow frat brothers Robert Murphy and Reggie Brown at the age of 22. His self-destruct messaging application allows users to send pictures and videos that are only available for a set amount of time and automatically deleted from the app's server, assuring the privacy of the users. As more and more teenagers start to realize that every content they create online is hardly going anywhere, they start to turn to Snapchat, which now has a median user age of 18. Different from the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, who offered and failed to acquire Snapchat with $3 billion cash, Spiegel does not believe that tracking users' every move on the internet and target them with ads is a good practice. After turning down Facebook's acquisition when Snapchat had 50 million users and was still a revenue-less service, it now has around 130 million daily active users and is valued at $22 billion.

Such huge success would not have been achieved without his obsession with privacy, which distinguishes him from most of the tech leaders in Silicon Valley. He prefers walking meetings along the Venice Beach boardwalk rather than all-hands meetings, which are widely implemented in companies like Facebook and Google, because he believes that privacy is extremely important. It's this somehow headstrong belief in privacy, which he brings into the design of his product, that makes Snapchat popular among young people. Spiegel’s passion for creating a messaging tool that makes users feel secure and comfortable is his stake that allows him to be so confident and asserted when firing substandard or disagreeing employees, which makes him somehow similar to Steve Jobs, one of the greatest pioneers in the tech world.

A role model is hardly perfect. Leaked emails show that he shamelessly made some misogynistic jokes during his fraternity career. Despite his seemingly annoying stubbornness, Evan Spiegel is fearless when he faces his unpleasant aspect. Instead of denying it, Spiegel issued an official apology where he called himself a jerk.

Evan Spiegel is persistent, innovative, and honest to himself. He has earned both users and shareholders' trust by following business ethic with respect to privacy and still managing to make decisions of the company's interests. He inspires me, an eager prospective tech worker, to become a responsible innovator that follow his heart. In this materialistic world, many young people couldn't resist temptations of quick money; however, when facing an acquisition that could have boosted his net worth to $750 million, he chose to cherish his technology and the ownership of it. Not that many young people have the courage to turn down such temptation. The amount of money he and his company has made is not what I see as the greatest: money is just a measurement of success; but what make him achieve such degree of success, his unique and innovative ideas, special attention to business ethics, courage to face the past, and most importantly, his determination to follow his passion and principles, are things about him I truly admire.

You can download the Snapchat mobile app here: https://www.snapchat.com/download. Even you don't use Snapchat, just by playing around with the different modules of the app, it will definitely give you a break from Facebook and an impulse to create while feeling extra secure.

References:

Colao, J.J. "The Inside Story Of Snapchat: The World's Hottest App Or A $3 Billion Disappearing Act?" Forbes, 6 Jan. 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/jjcolao/2014/01/06/the-inside-story-of-snapchat-the-worlds-hottest-app-or-a-3-billion-disappearing-act/#6fe2958655ec. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

Johnson, Luke. "Who is Evan Spiegel? 7 things you need to know about the Snapchat founder engaged Miranda Kerr." Digital Spy, 20 July 2016, www.digitalspy.com/tech/apps/feature/a663482/who-is-evan-spiegel-7-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-snapchat-founder-dating-miranda-kerr/. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

Parsons, Jeff. "Who is Evan Spiegel? Everything you need to know about the Snapchat Billionaire and Future Husband of Miranda Kerr." Mirror, 21 July 2016, www.mirror.co.uk/tech/who-evan-spiegel-everything-you-8462595. Accessed 9 Dec. 2016.

Wagner, Kurt. "Inside Evan Spiegel's very private Snapchat story." CNBC, 9 May 2016, www.cnbc.com/2016/05/09/inside-evan-spiegels-very-private-snapchat-story.html. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

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