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&ldquo much of it is stranger than fiction. It’s a fantastic story, I understood that if I didn’t write the book, somebody else would and I’d regret it,” says Billy Gallagher, author of “How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story. ” The publication, which starts pre-sales today and debuts on February 13th, follows CEO Evan Spiegel from the Stanford dorms where Snap was invented, to rejecting Facebook’s purchase offer in 2013, through Snap’s rugged IPO.
Gallagher is uniquely apt to pencil the book. The TechCrunch reporter and Khosla Ventures analyst was younger and in the same Stanford fraternity as Spiegel [Disclosure: so was I]. He knew a number of the CEO’s contemporaries and was privy to the back-channel gossip regarding why co-founder Reggie Brown was pushed from the company, in addition to how the idea for messages that were disappearing came into Spiegel.
Gallagher’s first narrative for TechCrunch in May 2012 helped set the record straight that, “No, Snapchat Isn’t Concerning Sexting. &rdquo finishing his Stanford Graduate School of Business level, Gallagher has also the know-how along with the life experience to recreate the fascinating startup founding narrative of the years. Even without help from the company itself.
“I had been given no accessibility,” Gallagher informs me. “Snapchat’s PR helped me with reality checking. I needed to rely on sources I had from TechCrunch. I had been beating the pavement, cold-calling and cold-emailing. ‘What documents can you show me? What emails can you show me? ’ ” Gallagher worked from over 200 interviews and 450 pages of source notes to compile the final result.
But the hardest part was adjusting by the rapid-fire publishing style of TechCrunch into the lengthy feedback cycle of publishing with St. Martin’s Press. “You find something out, you get excited, then, and you find a source you post about it,” of blogging Gallagher says. But with the publication, he’s needed to observe scoops he sniffed out get exposed by the blogs.
Gallagher wouldn’t share hints about any of those scoops he has left for the publication’s launch in February, however, says what he thinks readers will appreciate is “Some of those first days of the company and even things at Future Freshman [which pivoted into Breeze]. There’s meat left on the bone there. ” Plus there’s all the specifics of the Facebook acquisition that is rejected. While The New York Times’ Evelyn Ruslis $3 billion-plus bidding in 2013, Gallagher’s publication will reveal.
As for his concluding perspective of Spiegel forged throughout the writing process, “You must be impressed with anyone who will have an idea that was arguably not that good of an idea during its beginning, turn it into something really smart and simple, and build it into what Snapchat is today,” Gallagher describes. “I respect Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to turn down then back it up. ”
Nevertheless don’t expect some one-sided profile of the product genius. “Evan has any flaws. For founder-CEOs that are the firm, it can be extremely hard when what’s getting you from zero to 1, and trusting your gut, isn’t exactly what makes the company from 1 to 100. ”
And in relation to Facebook’s strategy of copying Snapchat that’s making it so hard for the younger firm, Gallagher gave these foreboding words: “It’s a bit disheartening to see howFacebook just appears at companies and says, ‘You’re Houseparty. You’do this really cool chat program that is innovative. We’re going to either buy you or conquer you, and crush you by copying you with all the benefits of our scale,’ ” he says glumly. “It’s difficult without getting crushed by Facebook to do anything in the social space. What happens in five to ten years in case this cycle persists? ”
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