Former Snapchat employee, Anthony Pompliano, accused the parent company’s CEO Evan Spiegel of once dismissing India as a “poor” country that should not be given priority for the app because it cannot appreciate what it offers. Pompliano’s complaint, which was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, was unsealed with the company’s approval last week on April 10th. It was directly made against Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, which went public in New York early last month. When the document was unsealed, the company attached a notice to the document denying that Snap executives committed “any of the panoply of alleged bad acts that litter”. It went on to state, “Snap will demonstrate as much at the appropriate time in the appropriate forum”.
Pompliano was fired in 2015 after only three weeks at the company. He alleged that any time an employee offers the suggestion for Snap to expand or complains about the app’s slow growth in a market like India, which has a growing mobile penetration, Spiegel cuts him or her off, saying, “This app is only for rich people”. Pompliano also claims Spiegel retorted, “I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain” and Spiegel refused to grow his business in international markets. Snap stated that former employee’s allegations are “ridiculous” and that he is just disgruntled. “Obviously Snapchat is for everyone!” a spokesperson for the company said. “It’s available worldwide to download for free. Those words were written by a disgruntled former employee. We are grateful for our Snapchat community in India and around the world.”
Despite this statement, the company’s supposed discrimination against third world countries from experiencing what the app offers has spread like wild fire on social media in India. Outraged users have posted their discontentment on Twitter with the hastag #boyscottsnapchat, prompting many to delete the application from their devices. Disgusted reviews were also left on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Employees supporting the app which claims to “lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world, and explore news in Discover”, defended the company by retweeting on its Twitter page. Some confused users also misdirected their anger toward Snapdeal, an online retailer based in India. One of the company’s founders, Kunal Bahl, tried to do damage control, tweeting “to make a statement that @snapdeal is not @snapchat was possibly the last thing I thought I would ever need to do”.
The claims have caused Snap’s shares to drop more than 15% since they opened at $24. India is a rapidly growing market with Internet penetration expected to grow 2.5 times by 2020. With the Indian market being anything but a bad investment, big name companies such as Uber and Amazon have spent millions expanding into the Indian market to capitalize on their return. “Snap did not give investors misstated user metrics back in 2015; nor did Snap employees commit any of the panoply of alleged bad acts that litter Pompliano’s complaint,” Snapchat wrote in its notice filed with the court.