Reports emerged last week of a former Snapchat employee named Anthony Pompliano’s claims that the platform misled investors in the run-up to its forthcoming IPO.
The rumour mill went into overdrive. What were the nature of these lies? Could user numbers or length of time on the platform have been exaggerated?
If so it wouldn’t be the first time a social giant has been caught out. Earlier in 2016, Facebook was widely reported to have lied to advertisers about several key statistics.
Pompliano is also reported to have complained that Snapchat lured him from Facebook purely to find out more about how Zuckerberg’s company really ran.
Even if any of this is true – so what?
None of this is particularly novel – start-ups routinely massage their predicted growth models, and when start-ups become established companies, this mindset remains. When I was a relatively unimportant Yahoo! employee, in the dim, distant background when Yahoo! still had some cache, several companies tried to lure me away – but every time it was clearly a play to extract information.
What is important about all of this, especially as we enter the age of Dark Social, is an agreed and accepted solution to independent scrutiny of figures bandied about by platforms. Dark Social, of course, presents a new even more difficult challenge – we’ve got some primitive tracking facilities, but measuring engagement and usage of it is a whole new ballgame.
Paul Hurley is a co-founder of Frictionless.Social, a London agency solely devoted to Dark Social Marketing.