This is the face of the New Meritocracy: Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel is atop a startup valued at $800 million after a lifetime of wealth, nepotism, favors, and fun. L.A. Weekly takes a look at the founder's charmed boyhood, and reminds you, life is always fair.
Right after Spiegel's fraternity-approved, mega-faddish startup locked down its most recent round of venture capital, the 22-year-old bought himself a Ferrari—good to have something concrete to lean against when your business is based on ephemerality and doesn't even try to make money. In the Times article, we see Spiegel's motor-lust is nothing new. The kid has been wanting things he doesn't deserve since early childhood:
When young Evan learned to drive, he was given the use of a new 2006 Cadillac Escalade. The school did not allow him to park it on campus. But fortunately for Evan, Southern California Edison had a property next door. His father called in a favor with his longtime client, and Evan got to park in the gated Edison lot.
The Escalade was never enough. After Spiegel's Ivy League attorney parents divorced, he pressed them for a brand new BMW of his own:
He no longer wanted to drive the Escalade. Instead, he wanted a new BMW 550i, which had a sticker price of $75,000. He laid out his case in a letter to his father on Feb. 12, 2008. He began by thanking his father for working so hard to afford "such an amazing lifestyle," assuring him that he understood how privileged they were. "We live in a bubble," Evan wrote.
Reassuring that the paper millionaire is familiar with bubblenomics. Spiegel's mother leased the BMW for him, and he immediately received a speeding ticket. Looking at all this, it's less surprising that Snapchat hasn't really bothered trying to make money, a la Tumblr—also founded by a kid who was given what he wanted, including college admissions:
His parents had made charitable contributions to Stanford, and in the spring of 2008, John Spiegel helped his son get into the school. (Though they were not speaking at the time, John Spiegel said in a court declaration that Evan called him from a vacation in Prague to "thank me for the help that I provided him in gaining admission.")
"Revenue" seems trivial when living in the moment means VIP partying, and besides, you grew up like this:
The family enjoyed a $2 million house in Pacific Palisades, undertaking a $1 million remodel in 2000. They had five luxury cars, including three Lexuses and a restored 1966 Mustang, and memberships in the Riviera Club, the California Club, the Jonathan Club and the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. They took regular trips to Europe, the Bahamas and Maui, staying in Four Seasons resorts. Young Evan enjoyed Jet Skiing and wakeboarding. On one occasion, he and his father went snowboarding by helicopter in Canada, court records show. Evan and his two younger sisters attended Crossroads, the private prep school in Santa Monica, and were assisted by tutors, some of whom charged up to $250 an hour.
He went on to propose that he limit his spending on clothes, food, entertainment and transportation to $2,000 per month — but went on to ask for a $2,000 emergency fund because "my life is full of unforeseen expenses."
This $2,000 per month allowance came after Spiegel racked up a flurry of overdraft charges—just the kind of financial prudence that forced Snapchat to take a less-than-favorable funding round from Lightspeed Venture Partners when server fees piled up.
So don't worry too much about Evan Spiegel. Even if he successfully fucks over his ousted former partner in court, fails to devise any way of making money with his company, and ends up being the Livestrong bracelet of has-been phone software, gone from his ritzy Venice Beach office, he can always go back to his dad's house, where he can "control a movie theater in the basement."