A few days ago, a former employee of Snapchat revealed that the CEO of Snapchat, Evan Speigel, foolishly commented that India was “too poor” for Snapchat to expand its base there. The comment was brought to light in a lawsuit filed by Anthony Pompliano, which accuses Snapchat of manipulating user data and misleading advertisers.
Pompaliano claims that the comment was made in a meeting in 2015 where officials at Snapchat were discussing the expansion of the app to lucrative geographies. In the meeting, Pompaliano then shared that the App had not been performing to its full potential and suggested that they expand to other countries. Speigal then responded by saying: “This app is only for rich people – I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”
The company has since denied the claims saying, “Obviously Snapchat is for everyone. It’s available worldwide to download for free,” and called the allegations “ridiculous”. The company has even gone to say that these false allegations are just a publicity stunt by Pompaliano who has been using the lawsuit to malign the company because he was unable to secure a job since his termination at Snap Inc. The company is even denying allegations of manipulating user data and deceiving advertisers.
There are currently around 4 million Snapchat users in India. In response to the derogatory comments made my Speigal, India’s social media users reacted over the Internet as #UninstallSnapchat and #BoycottSnapchat trended on Facebook and Twitter. The rating of the app has also fallen on the App Store due to the negative ratings being given to it.
India is the emerging market for technology businesses with a staggering 432 million Internet users and an even larger amount of people waiting to be connected (about 750million potential users).
Despite India being such a huge market for tech giants, its proven to be a difficult market to enter and make use of. Last year, Facebook’s plans of providing free mobile internet to hundreds of millions of Indians failed as it was considered a violation of net neutrality.
Earlier this year, Amazon was forced to pull out doormats from its store that represented the Indian Flag. India’s foreign secretary, Sushma Swaraj had even gone as far as threatening to revoke the visas of the company’s employees.
The ride hailing service Uber, too has been struggling in India as it has been hit hard by local competition which have been fighting for adjustments in economic policies that protect them from American companies.