Snapchat Founders Sued By Classmate Who Claims They Stole His Idea
Snapchat founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy may have stepped in some deep shit about two years ago… and it’s starting to stink. Former classmate Frank Reginald Brown IV, 23, has sued the pair, alleging they stole his idea for an app that would “automatically delete” messages.
Basically, Brown claims he got back to the dorm one night and told his roommate Spiegel they should make an app that sends self-deleting picture messages. Spiegel thought it was a “million-dollar idea,” they decided to work together and shook on it. So much for the value of a handshake.
All went well for a while. Spiegel’s buddy Bobby Murphy was brought on board as the would-be app’s programmer and the threesome agreed—through an “explicit oral agreement”—to form the startup later to be known as Snapchat, in which each partner would have “one-third ownership and profit interests.” But nobody felt the need to—or somebody got convinced not to—put it in writing.
Brown says he thought up the original name for the app—Picaboo—the ghost logo – still in use, and the company’s original Facebook and Twitter profiles. He also takes credit for the patent application.
But shit started hitting the fan around August 2011. Brown went home to South Carolina to visit his family, and while he was there got into “a contentious telephone conversation” about the app’s future with Spiegel. Some things were said, and Spiegel ended up hanging up. Then Speigel and Murphy pretty much cut off communication with Brown. They wouldn’t answer his calls and changed the app’s password so he couldn’t access his own creation. In a final snub, they changed the app’s name to Shapchat.
Needless to say, Brown is pissed. The startup’s potential couldn’t be better right now—Snapchat just grabbed a $13.5 million investment—so instead of asking for damages, Brown wants his 33-percent stake in the company restored.
Of course Snapchat vehemently denies everything. It issued a statement acknowledging the allegations, but calling them “utterly devoid of merit.“
We “will vigorously defend ourselves against this frivolous suit. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this pending legal matter.”
But how do Spiegel and Murphy explain the 2011 photo of the three in an LA restaurant, arms around one another, cake and candles—with “Picaboo” logo—in front? Brown says the three are celebrating the “birth of Picaboo.”
[Top image via Snapchat]
I want more stuff like this!