After vehemently denying a legal claim to the contrary for more than a year, Snapchat’s two founders have admitted that they did not come up with the idea for the company on their own.
Snapchat announced Tuesday that it has settled a lawsuit with ousted co-founder Frank Reginald “Reggie” Brown IV, who sued the company in February 2013 after it was valued at $70 million.
Now valued at $10 billion or more, Snapchat fought an embarrassing public battle with Brown, who claimed to own one-third of the company. His suit alleged that he had been a third co-founder alongside CEO Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, the technology chief, and that they had kicked him out one month before the photo-sharing app launched in July 2011.
“Reggie Brown originally came up with the idea of creating an application for sending disappearing picture messages while he was a student at Stanford University,” Snapchat said in a statement on Tuesday. “He then collaborated with Spiegel and Murphy on the development of Snapchat during its early and most formative days.”
The terms of the settlement are confidential.
Having previously called the suit “frivolous” and “devoid of merit,” Spiegel — whose reputation was tarnished earlier this year with the leak of crass, misogynistic emails he wrote as a fraternity member at Stanford — on Tuesday finally relented.
“We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a manner that is satisfactory to Mr. Brown and the company,” Spiegel said in a statement. “We acknowledge Reggie’s contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground.”
The timing of Snapchat’s announcement suggests that the company may have hoped news of the settlement would go unremarked. The company sent out its press release about the settlement at 1 p.m. EST — coincident with Apple’s big product launch event, which dominated the technology and mainstream press corps’ attention.