"In the grand tradition of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires (2009)... an engaging look into a fascinating subculture of millions." —Booklist
"Breezy...How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars ably if uncritically chronicles the short history of a young company catering to young users, with a young chief executive, and reveals, intentionally or not, the limitations that come with that combination." —Wall Street Journal
The improbable and exhilarating story of the rise of Snapchat from a frat boy fantasy to a multi-billion dollar internet unicorn that has dramatically changed the way we communicate.
In 2013 Evan Spiegel, the brash CEO of the social network Snapchat, and his co-founder Bobby Murphy stunned the press when they walked away from a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook: how could an app teenagers use to text dirty photos dream of a higher valuation? Was this hubris, or genius?
In How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, tech journalist Billy Gallagher takes us inside the rise of one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups. Snapchat developed from a simple wish for disappearing pictures as Stanford junior Reggie Brown nursed regrets about photos he had sent. After an epic feud between best friends, Brown lost his stake in the company, while Spiegel has gone on to make a name for himself as a visionary—if ruthless—CEO worth billions, linked to celebrities like Taylor Swift and his wife, Miranda Kerr.
A fellow Stanford undergrad and fraternity brother of the company’s founding trio, Gallagher has covered Snapchat from the start. He brings unique access to a company Bloomberg Business called “a cipher in the Silicon Valley technology community.” Gallagher offers insight into challenges Snapchat faces as it transitions from a playful app to one of the tech industry’s preeminent public companies. In the tradition of great business narratives, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars offers the definitive account of a company whose goal is no less than to remake the future of entertainment.
Snapchat's long march toward its IPO, which made founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy worth more than $6 billion and $5 billion, respectively, makes for a riveting story in journalist Gallagher's hands. He fluently relates the app's development, its early rise in popularity, the significance of corporations such as Taco Bell jumping on the bandwagon, and, perhaps most importantly, Spiegel and Murphy's reluctance to sell the company to Facebook, no matter the price. Gallagher has followed Snapchat since early on and was handpicked to tell the story by Spiegel, a fellow Stanford alum, because he "understood the product" better than many other journalists. As Gallagher reminds readers, the app's full potential was missed by the many reporters who initially sensationalized it as a platform for sexting. Gallagher also shows a keen understanding of and familiarity with Spiegel ("Evan hates... open-floor plans"), even if readers may not agree that the wildly successful entrepreneur is as brilliant as the author portrays him. Certainly, few will argue with Gallagher's declaration that the company "made a distinctive impact" and "marked a rebellion against the social network status quo" of the early 2010s. This is a do-not-miss book for avid followers of the tech world and its financial dealings.
Reads like a long winded boring advertisement
Some interesting tidbits related to the founders’ college experiences, but the book has tons of fluff and skippable pages.