Can Snap, Inc. be saved? A simple data approach.

2 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Features, Trends

Snapchat ($NYSE:SNAP), the visual messaging app developer turned "camera company," is looking for a path to growth — both in terms of users and revenue.

On the fiscal side, Snap missed estimates with revenues of $230.6 million in sales during the first three months of 2018 (compared to an expected $245 million). In an effort to bring in more cash, Snap signed a deal with Amazon this week to add visual search of items that the e-commerce giant sells. It is, of course, too soon to know if this affiliate program will move the revenue needle and will garner positive reactions from regular Snapchat users.

However, that user pool is also shrinking for the very first time. Earlier this year, 191 million users logged into the app every day. Today, that number is closer to 188 million. The flat — and now declining — numbers are largely due to a disappointing redesign along with poor sales for its Spectacles camera, which were sunglasses that were originally designed for users to document their lives and to instigate more interest in Snap's total brand. Regular Snapchat users made it very clear that they weren't interested in donning those glasses, and so, Spectacles were a unanimous flop.

Despite a declining user base and missing revenue targets, other data shows that Snap might have some signs of hope in the coming years. Here's a look at the state of Snap as told by the data, what it tells us about the company, and where it could potentially go to reverse course.

Snap, Inc. Hiring Activity

After a steep lull over the summer, Snap is hiring again with 145 open positions compared to just 96 in June. While this isn't nearly the company's highest hiring moment — that was for 200 openings back in September 2017 — it is a good sign that the company is investing where it matters most: fresh talent with new ideas.

As for who Snap is hiring, 40 of the positions are for Engineering positions. Subjectively, this is good; Snap needs to improve its product in order reverse its engagement numbers, which will then lead to improved revenue. Meanwhile, the company remains focused on its Camera product with 17 open positions listed under "Camera Platform."

Snap Job Category

Title (Count)

Engineering

40

Camera Platform

17

Sales & Marketing

14

Placed

12

Spectacles

11

Human Resources

9

Finance & Accounting

7

Revenue Product & Programs

5

Talent Acquisition

3

Research

3

It doesn't appear, however, that most of the Camera Platform positions are for Spectacles. Of the 17 openings, 13 are for Engineers of some sort, mostly Software Engineers. This points to the notion that Snap will continue to innovate on its camera effects and photo messaging, a core element of the app. In other words, it appears to be focusing back on its core audience rather than focusing too much on the niche Spectacles group.

Interestingly, Snap is also looking for an AR (Augmented Reality) software engineer, a possible nod to a future version of Spectacles that include some AR functionality. This could finally make Spectacles interesting, but for now, signs point towards improvements towards the Snapchat app in the near-future.

App Reviews

Snap is, after all, an app, so review numbers for said app are critical. On the Google Play store, the app scores an average 4 out of 5, which is above average. On the iOS side of things, however, review averages have sunk to just 2.5 out of 5.

There is clearly room for improvement here. Snap has already improved many app issues created by the redesign, but users still complain of a complex interface that has many looking for alternatives.

To be fair to Snap, many negative review on the iOS App Store have little to nothing to do with the app itself. For example, there are an awful lot of users who've forgotten their passwords and can't log in.

Snap, Inc. Workplace Culture

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that those who work at Snap, Inc. are a bit down on the company. They read the quarterly results, see the numbers, and hear the criticisms from users. Some of this manifests itself in slumping reviews on anonymous workplace review site Glassdoor.

The large drop-off in March 2018 seen across all Glassdoor metrics was because of another morale killer: layoffs. At that point in time, Snapchat let go of over 100 engineers right before it launched its redesign.

Since then, ratings bottomed out to all-time lows in mid-July, but have slightly rebounded in the past two weeks.

Can Snap be saved?

Almost 200 million people use Snap every day as part of their media, social, and chatting diet.

While that makes it smaller than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, that also makes it larger than Reddit, WhatsApp, and Tumblr. That means that not only does it have a large, active userbase, it also has a daily opportunity to improve those users' experiences on the app. And when Snap does that successfully, it builds audience.

In other words, it's not too late to reverse course.

With a continued focus on product and engineering along with a clear mission that differentiates Snap from the competition, the app and social network could be saved. Snap should listen to its 188 million users who use the product every single day, and if it learns from them — not just how they use the app but what they feel should be the future for Snap — things could be bright.

Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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