Strategically timed to coincide exactly when the majority of the tech community was focused on Apple’s press conference today, Snapchat representatives quietly announced that the company has reached a settlement with ousted co-founder Frank Reginald Brown. According to Brown’s claims, Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy worked directly with him at Stanford University in creating a similar application called Picaboo. Brown claimed that he came up with the idea of disappearing picture messages, one of Snapchat’s core features, as well as the ghost logo.
While the terms of the agreement have not been made public, Brown’s legal team indicated that he was originally seeking more than one billion dollars. Presumably, that percentage of the company would have come out of Spiegel and Murphy’s ownership stake of approximately 15 percent each. However, it’s possible that the monetary value of the settlement is small. The company has yet to figure out how to monetize the application without driving 100 million young users to one of the many competitors that have popped up in the last twelve months.
Speaking about the settlement, Spiegel said “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a manner that is satisfactory to Mr. Brown and the Company. We acknowledge Reggie’s contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground.”
This is a complete turnaround from previous statements discussing the lawsuit. During 2013 after the lawsuit was filed, Snapchat released a statement which read “We are aware of the allegations, believe them to be utterly devoid of merit, and will vigorously defend ourselves against this frivolous suit.” Of course, Brown is currently prohibited from speaking about the terms of the settlement and is likely silenced from speaking about any existing ownership stake in the company.