The Brogrammer is a mostly mythological figure, a nine-headed scapegoat. But there are, of course, programmers who also happen to be massive bros. For instance, the dudes who founded mega-valuable Snapchat. When you call yourself a "certified bro" in an email to the opposite sex, then yes, you probably are. Let's read their emails and texts.
The following court docs, exhumed by TechCrunch writer (and the Snapchat founders' fraternity brother!) Billy Gallagher, paint us a very particular picture. It's a painting of a Solo cup. A red Solo cup filled with Keystone Light, patent wrangling, and three eager college boys who are somewhere between the kind of people who wear golf visors to class and the kind of people who stumble into an $800 million smartphone phenomenon.
Only two years ago, before they were embroiled in a lawsuit, Reginald "Reggie" Brown IV, Evan Spiegel, and Bobby Murphy were building Snapchat together. The app was young, blossoming, and full of potential, just like its finely coiffed makers, brothers of Stanford's Kappa Sigma chapter. They weren't sure what the app would be used for, or if it'd ever catch on, but they knew it wasn't really like anything else you could put on your phone at the time. They had a fucking great idea, really. So naturally, they were proud—on July 27th, 2011, Spiegel typed out an email to his friend, blogger, and current MTV writer Nicole James:
Subject: Yo gurl, here's an iPhone app I think you'd love...
James, preempting the entire tech writing community, thought it'd be a natural fit for sexting—though Spiegel suggested women could use it to ask their peers if their asses looked fat in dresses, without a permanent record of said asses:
Snapchat—or Picaboo, as it was called back then—was exciting not just because it might've become a mega-millions sensation, but because of the chicks. The team was over the moon about how many college girls were roaming around the house they were using as a makeshift software dev studio. Dawg: don't take my word for it.
So of course, the trio was chest-bumping itself via SMS with much gusto.
Bro love, hustling, rockets—it was an exciting summer, and things were just getting started. This app is going to fucking rock:
Evan said there was NO CHANCE they were going to celebrate without Reggie—who would soon be pushed out of the operation entirely—because a bro doesn't do another bro like that, even aboard a rocket.
But it wasn't meant to last. Like most frat houses, Snapchat was all fun and high fives on the outside, but inside, rotting wood and discord. By August, the trio was fighting about who deserved credit for what—a dispute that's still working its way through court today. In the meantime, Reggie has been completely booted from the company by the other two, erased from its annals, and cut out of multi-million dollar cash-out deals like his former partners. Of course, he wants his piece—and from the intimacy of these texts, it sure looks like he was in on it from the beginning.
Spiegel says, straight up, that Brown deserves credit for "the idea of disappearing messages"—not exactly a trivial feature of Snapchat! You might say it's the feature. I might say it's the feature. It is the feature.
The bro-talk slips away when the prospect of money (earned or lost) pops up. Suddenly, creating a business isn't about the girls or the frat cred, and suddenly, the guys who made the biggest craze in the recent history of smartphones look like the regular dudes you used to pass on the quad.
The court documents can be read in full below.