Book Review  

How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars – The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher

How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars – The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher

Who knew that the idea for Snapchat came about after a student thought it might be easier to convince Stanford university female students to send racy pictures of themselves if they could find a way to make the pictures disappear within a few hours?

When Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel first pitched the idea to a venture capitalist the initial response was that it was a bit creepy, akin to sexting and unlikely to be a success.

It probably did not help that the name it started under also sounded like a well-known children's game, which has also been adopted by adults.

Although the idea was apparently thought up in a drug haze, fast-forward six years and it is a whole different story for the multi-billion dollar company.

This is just one of the many interesting nuggets you will find when you read the book How To Turn Down a Billion Dollars – The Snapchat Story, by Billy Gallagher.

The book chronicles the rise of Snapchat from its early days through to its initial public offering and beyond, and the bumps along the way.

At its core it is the story of how Mr Spiegel shocked the world when he turned down a $3bn offer from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in 2013.

The book is written in a fast-paced manner and draws you deep into the lives of the intensely clever, party loving and privileged lives of students at Stanford – which has been a breeding ground for many of the biggest tech companies today; Google, Yahoo, Netflix and eBay, to name but a few.

Written as if he were in every scene in the book, Mr Gallagher's storytelling is fresh and action-packed.

This is even more impressive when you consider the book is based on nearly 200 interviews, thousands of pages of court documents and hundreds of articles.

Mr Gallagher, himself a Stanford alumnus and a tech journalist, did know the Snapchat co-founders Mr Spiegel, Reggie Brown and Bobby Murphy.

And as much as readers are certain to enjoy this book, the same cannot be said for Mr Spiegel, who is unlikely to have reacted favourably to Mr Gallagher’s coverage of Mr Brown’s 2013 lawsuit against his Snapchat co-founders.

This is not just a story about the rise of Snapchat – it is an education on the explosive world of tech start-ups and the dos and don'ts of venture capitalism.

The book may only be, in the author’s words, one version of the Snapchat story, but it is one that will certainly keep you eagerly turning the pages.

Published by Virgin Books. Ima Jackson-Obot is a features writer at Financial Adviser