If your stockbroker didn’t get you any Snapchat shares last week at the initial offering price of $17 — shares of parent company Snap Inc. shot up to $27 after two days of trading — don’t feel too bad. Just think how much the South Carolina-born millennial who came up with the concept lost after pulling out of the business, before it became worth $30 billion after the IPO.
In early 2011, Reggie Brown suggested the idea for fast-disappearing video messages to Kappa Sigma fraternity brother and Stanford University classmate Evan Spiegel, according to a March 2013 New York magazine story. The duo later brought on fellow frat brother Bobby Murphy as the project’s coder.
But in August 2011, Spiegel and Brown got into a snit, prompting password changes that booted Brown from the project. (English major Brown graduated from the California university in 2012.) He sued and received a total of $157.5 million in a settlement — $50 million in 2014 and $107.5 million in 2016, according to Snap’s filing in early February with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Spiegel’s shares in Snap are now worth $6 billion, though Barron’s and other market analysts view Snap as wildly overvalued. The company lost $516 million last year and faces competition from Facebook, among others.
Brown has all kinds of Carolinas connections. His father, Frank Reginald Brown III, is a pediatrician in Florence, S.C. He earned an MBA from Duke University in 2014. And he’s reportedly living in either Columbia or near Charleston, according to a March 1 Los Angeles Times story.
Brown has kept a low profile since news of his role in Snapchat became public. That makes lots of sense: He’s an expert in disappearance.