A man is suing the creators of a popular social app, claiming that they took his idea and shut him out or what was eventually a “million-dollar-idea,” after they all worked together on it during college.
No, this isn’t the Winklevii, and we’re not talking about Facebook. It’s South Carolina native Frank Reginald Brown IV, and we’re talking about Snapchat.
Snapchat is the relatively new ephemeral messaging app that lets users create images or videos and send them to friends with a time limit attached. The ticking time bomb messages will then self destruct upon competition, and it will notify you if your recipient tried to make the image or video more permanent via screenshots. Much maligned at first as an app catering to sexting teens, Snapchat has grown beyond that narrow frame.
Now, it and its creators Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel are being sued.
According to the L.A. Times, Brown claims that he’s the one who came up with the concept of Snapchat. He then approached Spiegel who decided it was worth pursuing.
Brown says that the three moved in together (all while attending Stanford) and worked on the app in the summer of 2011. Brown says that he came up with the app’s original named (Picaboo) and logo (the little ghost). Shortly after, they had a falling out and Brown alleges that Murphy and Spiegel locked him out of all their accounts and servers.
Snapchat called the allegations “frivolous” in a statement:
We are aware of the allegations, believe them to be utterly devoid of merit, and will vigorously defend ourselves against this frivolous suit. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this pending legal matter.
Whether this is a legitimate complaint from Brown or simply a money grab is left to be seen. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t stretch out as long as things like this can stretch out.
The lawsuit does contain this photo of the three, proving that they at least knew each other. Notice the Snapchat-like image on the cake (which could mean everything or nothing, depending on the context).