My colleague Nick Statt and I took a look at Snap's unusual corporate structure, and how it has led the company both to significant breakthroughs and worrisome bottlenecks:
The hub-and-spoke model means the company can sometimes iterate faster than its peers, cutting through internal politics to arrive at visionary breakthroughs. Spiegel still spends about 40 percent of his time working on Snapchat’s core product, a person who worked with him said.
But at the same time, the model can create bottlenecks that result in core complaints going unaddressed for months or years, insiders say. Among other consequences, Spiegel’s more deliberate approach can put the company at a disadvantage to Facebook, which has not just cloned its most successful products, but has also rapidly iterated on them.
Snap’s structure also usurps authority from its product managers, some of whom have left amid complaints they lacked the autonomy they would have at other large tech companies, former employees said. At Snap, Spiegel’s priorities reign supreme, and everything else is secondary — a fact that could make it harder for the company to attract and retain top talent.
“Even when I was being interviewed, and [I] asked the benefits and downsides of working at Snapchat, the downside was that everything goes through Evan, and if Evan is on vacation, decisions don’t get made,” said one former employee, who left Snap last year. “One strategy a lot of people employ is finding the areas he doesn’t care about or things he doesn’t notice … or finding an area where you can improve the app without having to get his explicit approval.”