Snapchat chief technology officer Bobby Murphy. Photo courtesy of Snapchat website
MANILA, Philippines - The founders of Snapchat, the hottest private messaging app in the United States right now, are in the headlines after it was revealed they turned down a $3-billion offer from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
Twenty-three-year old Evan Spiegel and 25-year-old Bobby Murphy, whose mother is from the Philippines, are the young men behind Snapchat.
Released in 2011, the app allows people to send smartphone photos and videos, which will disappear in 10 seconds or less after being opened. It is estimated around 450 disappearing photos are sent through Snapchat every day.
According to Forbes magazine's estimate, there are currently 50 million people using Snapchat, with an average age of 18.
Spiegel and Murphy were recently featured in Forbes magazine's 2014 30 Under 30, a list of young individuals who are "changing the world."
The two met while they were students at Stanford University in California. Murphy was a mathematics and computational science major, while Spiegel was in the product-design program.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Murphy said they "weren't cool, so we tried to build things to be cool."
Murphy and Spiegel first worked together to develop an online software called Future Freshmen, but it didn't take off.
For their next project, a fellow Stanford student and friend, Reggie Brown (who would later sue the company for ownership), came up with suggestion for an app to send disappearing photos.
Spiegel decided to tap Murphy, who had just graduated, to develop the app.
Now, Snapchat is one of the hottest tech startups in the US, with millions of young users that seem to grow every day.
"It's about the moment, a connection between friends in the present and it's not just a pretty picture," Snapchat says.
While Spiegel is the good-looking, outspoken public face of Snapchat (he's on the cover of Forbes magazine), Murphy, the chief technology officer (CTO), is the brains who developed the app.
Little is known about Murphy, who was described by Forbes, as the son of state employees from Berkeley, adding that his mother had emigrated from the Philippines.
"I’d describe him almost like a monk,” David Kravitz, Snapchat’s first employee, told Forbes. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen him upset."
A separate profile on Elle magazine described Murphy as baby-faced, "like one of those twenty-something actors starring in a Disney TV show."
While Snapchat's profile is rising, it now faces challenges, such as Brown's lawsuit against Spiegel and Murphy for ousting him from the company; and a recent attack by hackers that allowed usernames and phone numbers of users to be compromised. And more importantly, whether it can become as big as Facebook once thought it could be.