Earlier this year, a former Snapchat employee named Anthony Pompliano filed suit against Snap Inc. for inflating user numbers and flat-out lying to investors about the company’s long-term potential for growth. Pompliano’s lawsuit was originally filed this past January, albeit in redacted form. This week, an unredacted version of the lawsuit was made public and, not surprisingly, it contains some shocking revelations.
The most headline-grabbing blurb (via Variety) alleges that Pompliano, while attending a meeting regarding Snapchat’s growth prospects, voiced concern about disappointing user adoption in international markets. Not even letting Pompliano finish his point, the lawsuit claims that Snap CEO Evan Spiegel interrupted Pompliano and boldly declared: “This app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”
While it’s easy to take this story and run with it, some additional context is worth mentioning. First and foremost, it’s hard to ignore the incongruity of Pompliano’s allegations. Are we to believe that Spiegel, as the CEO of a company that needs to acquire as many users as it can to placate investors, would so callously insult and ignore the people of two very populous countries? It’s certainly possible, but as tends to be the case with lawsuits levied by employees, it’s hard to draw any solid conclusions so early on.
As for inflated user metrics, Pompliano claims that Spiegel knowingly told investors that Snapchat boasted more than 100 million daily active users when in reality the figure was somewhere in the 96 million range. Per the lawsuit, Spiegel said aloud that the misrepresentation was “no big deal.” The lawsuit also claims that Snapchat lied to investors about user retention rates.
In response to the allegations, Snap’s attorneys have emphatically stated that the company “did not give investors misstated user metrics back in 2015, nor did Snap employees commit any of the panoply of alleged bad acts” Pompliano’s complaint introduces.
As for Pompliano’s motivations, Snap earlier this year said that he was simply making things up after being fired after only three weeks on the job. “Pompliano was a disgruntled employee fired for poor performance,” the company said this past January. “To rationalize his firing, Pompliano has ginned up preposterous allegations about Snap giving investors false user metrics back in 2015. Those accusations are sure to grab headlines, but they fail to grasp reality.”
Snap’s lawyers this week even went so far as to call Pompliano “thirsty” in a recently filed motion accompanying the release of the unredacted complaint.
“Pompliano now resurfaces after three months of inactivity with new attorneys but the same publicity-hungry game plan,” Snap’s attorneys wrote. “In his latest dramatic installment, Pompliano doubles down on the main canard from his complaint — that Snap gave investors misstated user metrics back in 2015 — by asserting that Snap is currently misleading investors. Both halves of that remarkable claim are false. And they regrettably show that the thirstier Pompliano grows for attention, the more he starves his filings of truth and common sense.”