Spiegel’s Sony Hack Note Sidesteps Snapchat’s Privacy Snafus

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Snapchat Inc. Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel wrote a heartfelt note after his e-mails were leaked in the Sony Corp. hack, expressing sadness, anger and a resolve to carry on. Nowhere in that message did he address his own company’s history with privacy.

This time last year, the 24-year-old CEO wasn’t responding to warnings to patch up a Snapchat security flaw, which ended up exposing data on 4.6 million people who use the application to send photos that disappear. In January, Spiegel also made public a private e-mail exchange with Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to make a point in an argument with a writer from Forbes.

This week, Spiegel was the victim after several of his e-mails were published as part of the Sony hack since Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is a Snapchat investor and board member. Spiegel said he felt angry and devastated -- like he was going to cry. The e-mails between Spiegel, board member Mitch Lasky and other investors illuminated how some of Snapchat’s deals came together and fell apart.

“It’s not okay that people steal our secrets and make public that which we desire to remain private,” Spiegel said today in an e-mail to his Los Angeles-based team, which he posted on Twitter. “We’re going to change the world because this is not the one that we want to live in.”

Facebook Deal

The hacked e-mails confirmed that Snapchat rejected a more than $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year, and showed that Zuckerberg blamed the startup for leaking the deal to the press to boost its fundraising efforts. Investors spurred Spiegel to apologize to Zuckerberg.

The messages also laid out how Spiegel drew a hard bargain with Tencent Holdings Ltd., in which he asked that he and his co-founder be able to cash out on $40 million as part of an investment deal that ultimately fell through. Spiegel didn’t notify Lasky about the move.

“Never told me ... in fact told me the exact opposite,” wrote Lasky, who is a partner at venture capital firm Benchmark, in one of the leaked e-mails. “When I confronted him about it, he said, ‘well I just turned down a billion from Zuck.’”

The e-mails also revealed some of Snapchat’s acquisitions and plans to do deals with the music industry.

“Protecting Snapchatters’ data is a top priority for us,” Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for Snapchat, said in a statement.

Security Issues

Snapchat, which is valued at $10 billion, apologized for the breach earlier this year and has been building its security team. The company has also started cracking down on third-party applications that led to a separate breach earlier this year.

A representative for Benchmark didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time Spiegel’s old e-mails have resurfaced. In May, the CEO apologized for notes he sent to his fraternity members at Stanford University in 2009 and 2010, in which he celebrated getting drunk and convincing sorority women to perform sexual acts.

“We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgment -- until we’re ready to share it,” Spiegel wrote today. “I am so sorry that our work has been violated and exposed.”